Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just in: Corporations are people! --the Supreme Court sez

Yesterday the Supreme Court reaffirmed its predecessors' late 19th century decision that corporations are people (along with trade unions and other organizations). As people, they have exactly the same right of free speech as you and I have.

So if you want to take out an ad during the next SuperBowl to tout your candidate or oppose the one the Chamber of Commerce is spending tens of millions of dollars to tout, well, you're free to do so. So to speak. That's a level playing field (as long as you're a billionaire).

Ok, fine. Corporations and unions and the Chamber of Commerce etc. are, I guess, collective people. So if a corporation is responsible for people's death, we can arrest that company's entire chain of command for manslaughter and send them to prison? A corporation can, um, marry someone? It gets one vote--instead of the votes of all its employees?

Honestly, is there any way to see this judgment as anything other than giving corporations all the rights of individuals but none of the responsibilities?

And the "corporatist five" who made this judgment call...they tend to call themselves originalists, don't they? How is this an originalist reading of the word "person" in the Constitution? Which Founding Father said corporations are persons?

Now we've all heard a lot of ignorant commentary on Supreme Court decisions. These people have a challenging job (if they choose to take it that way, which their lifetime tenure lets them avoid if they choose as well). They're certainly more knowledgeable about American jurisprudence and the Constitution than most of us.

But all of them have political affinities, and they show. This--along with the one in 2000 that tossed out Florida's legal system in favor of a judicial fiat--seem overtly political. And judgments like these show that George Bush II still presides over one of our country's three branches of government--and will do so for decades.

Remember that next time you're deciding whether it's worth voting.

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