Thursday, February 25, 2010

Repealing the First Amendment

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal had an op-ed about how leftists in Congress are trying to end-run the recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United vs. FEC which invalidated a major part of the McCain Feingold campaing finance law by banning certain categories of people, primarily corporations, from spending any money promoting political messages.  Congress critters Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) and John Conyers (D-Michigan) are actually proposing to amend the Constitution so it bars corporate free speech. John Kerry and Arlen Specter are also supporting this First Amendment attack. The common argument among supporters of these efforts is that corporations aren't people and therefor shouldn't enjoy the same free speech rights as real people. Of course they have no problem about other artificial entities, such as unions, having the same free speech rights as they do now. This is the comment I left after the article:

I’m getting rather tired of hearing that corporations shouldn’t have First Amendment free speech rights because they are not “real people”. While it is true a corporation is a legal and accounting construct, it is much more than that. It is run by real human beings and it is owned by real human beings, exercising their free association rights to pool their resources and conduct business. I own stock in many corporations, either directly or through mutual funds. Nearly everyone who has any kind of retirement plan, whether it is an IRA, 401K, union pension fund or what have you has an ownership interest in corporations.

The job of corporate management at the companies I own a part of is to look after the common interests of its owners, such as me. That job includes speaking out against government policies, or political officeholders/candidates that might be injurious to the company’s and therefore my interests as an owner. I believe the speech issue is actually somewhat of a red herring. Fundamentally what those who would muzzle corporations are doing is assaulting my property rights. They want carte blanche to do as they wish with my property whether it be, for example, imposing “windfall profit” taxes, i.e. seizing my legally earned money becasue they think I earned too much, imposing union labor contracts, violating my rights to associate or rather not associate with whomever I please, etc. They just want to be able to do it without my having the ability to protest their actions thorough the people who represent my interests, the management of those corporations.

Share |

1 comment:

Jeff Smith said...

Good explanation of why corporate free speech is as important as individual free speech!