One person, one vote - One corporation, one vote
The Supreme Court threw everyone for a loop a few weeks ago regarding corporate spending on advertising. Basically, the Court said corporations are like individuals and should have the freedom to spend money on candidates just like individuals do. While legal scholars can debate the matter, I, a concerned citizen of sound mind propose something of an interpretation.
So, all three branches need to readdress this subject and fix this before we the people are hurt again in another election.
“Sensible rules on corporate spending will make for informed voters
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, Feb. 21:
Many Democrats were furious when the Supreme Court ruled last month that corporations have a constitutional right to communicate their views about political candidates during election campaigns. Most prominent was President Barack Obama, who in his weekly radio address said it "opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money" and vowed to push legislation that would "repair the damage."
That presents a tricky task, since overturning the essential verdict would require a constitutional amendment. But last week, congressional Democrats unveiled a bill intended to curb the effects of the decision, with New York Sen. Charles Schumer warning, "If we don't act quickly, the court's ruling will have an immediate and disastrous impact on the 2010 elections."
Not likely, given the experience of Illinois - where such spending has always been allowed and has rarely occurred on any noticeable scale. It's by no means clear that corporations are itching for the chance to blow millions of dollars taking positions that will alienate many of their customers - or that, if they did, they would be able to persuade citizens to vote their way. In most places, having a corporation campaign for you would be a mixed blessing at best, and a huge liability at worst.
But that's no reason for Congress to do nothing. Right now, candidates operate under rules designed to provide voters with useful information. They have to disclose their donors, for instance, and they have to personally vouch for their broadcast spots by saying "I approved this message."
There are obvious justifications for subjecting corporations to similar mandates in the interest of honesty and transparency. The bill advances this goal by requiring companies to disclose their role not only to voters but to shareholders. Chief executives would have to personally appear in commercials to take responsibility. Corporate advocacy groups would have to name their biggest contributors, with the biggest one also required to appear in ads.
So far, so good. Justice Anthony Kennedy said explicitly in the court's opinion that the government "may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements."
Where the bill faces more uncertain prospects is in banning certain corporations from engaging in political speech at all. Foreign companies, government contractors and banks getting federal bailout money would all be barred.
The court justified its invalidation of the corporate ban on the ground that it deprived voters of information and interfered with the "marketplace of ideas." The same problems exist when only some corporations are restricted. If the information is potentially helpful to voters in assessing candidates, should it matter whether it comes from a domestic or foreign source?
The rule about companies with financial ties to the government might be easier to justify as a way to prevent politicians from rewarding firms that help them in elections. The justices have shown some deference to that rationale, which is why they allow limits on direct contributions to candidates. But how far they will take it is not clear.
Some critics of the Supreme Court want to amend the Constitution to overrule this decision. That would be a wild overreaction based on speculation that may prove groundless. But assuring that the new campaign environment gives voters more information? That policy is a winner.”
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London, United Kingdom