Millions of Americans, especially on the Left, are scornful of the ruling of the Supreme Court in 2010 regarding Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that ruling the Court overturned the provision of McCain-Feingold barring corporations and unions from paying for political ads made independently of candidate campaigns.
The ruling opened the door to unlimited expenditures by corporations and unions on behalf of candidates for office. It’s opened the floodgates to anonymous negative ads, and the Left is in high dudgeon.They have mischaracterized the Court’s ruling as “corporations are people and have the rights of people.” This piece of fiction has been enshrined in the dogma of the Left by Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Rachel Maddow.
As much as one may hate the result of the Court’s ruling, one can’t get beyond the Court’s reasoning: The First Amendment to the Constitution is pretty straightforward:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
In a 1959 ruling, Justice Hugo Black wrote, concurring with an opinion that overturned an obscenity conviction, that the First Amendment leaves no room for evasion:
That Amendment provides, in simple words, that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” I read “no law . . . abridging” to mean no law abridging.
The Roberts Court reached the same unavoidable conclusion in 2010. Not because they’re conservative, but because that’s what our Bill of Rights demands. Four Justices disagreed because of the likely pernicious effect on our politics. I too decry the effect of Citizens United. But that’s the Constitution that all our government officials are sworn to defend.
Americans may amend it but we may not ignore it.
Tags: anonymous ads, Bill of Rights, Citizens United, Constitution, corporations are people, ethics, First Amendment, freedom of speech, Hugo Black, Jon Stewart, McCain-Feingold, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, Supreme Court