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A threat to the First Amendment

Posted: August 19, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 19, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

During the Senate’s brief pre-election legislative session in mid-September, Harry Reid, D-Nevada, intends to call up for a vote an amendment to the Unites States Constitution.

This partisan-motivated vote would essentially overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinions on campaign finance and political speech. Alarmingly, it could also limit critical freedoms in our Bill of Rights.

Although amendments to the U.S. Constitution require two-thirds support in both the House and the Senate, and then ratification by three-quarters of the states, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson President and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, warns that this proposal could have serious consequences for all the “free speech” freedoms of the First Amendment.

It could be, he said, “detrimental to liberty and equality, preparing the way for the government to prefer one voice over another — or to suppress one voice under another.”

This ill-conceived amendment includes a section reiterating the freedom of the press but is silent on the other First Amendment liberties — namely, religion, speech, assembly, and petitioning the government for redress.

Dr. Johnson noted, “In essence, this would establish the press as a super-class of speaker (without defining what the press is), but could well leave expression by the rest of Americans at the mercy of the federal government.”

 

Comments

ricketzz: Posted: August 19, 2014 9:50 a.m.

The Supreme Court went too far, again. They are captured by the people that they are supposed to defend us from, like every Federal regulatory mechanism. The only people who get a benefit from unlimited spending are the TV stations. Citizens United was a life preserver for old fashioned TV.

"Move to Amend is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests. We call for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns."

movetoamend.org


ronos: Posted: August 19, 2014 10:10 a.m.

And Evangelical Christians don't have a problem with Corporations having become a " super class of speaker" ?!?


17trillion: Posted: August 19, 2014 10:33 a.m.

Oh no, the Christians are coming! Close the doors, shutter the windows, put the kids in their rooms and wrap them in bubble wrap, put the animals in the barn and cover your ears and eyes because THE CHRISTIANS ARE COMING!

I'm so afraid that I've soiled myself. Meanwhile in some remote part of the Islamic world, someone was relieved of their head for being a Christian.


stevehw: Posted: August 19, 2014 12:33 p.m.

Move To Amend proposes the following:

"Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment."

I don't see anything in there about religion...


tech: Posted: August 19, 2014 12:35 p.m.

movetoamend.org = fail

The ACLU and Citizens United

In our view, the answer to that problem is to expand, not limit, the resources available for political advocacy. Thus, the ACLU supports a comprehensive and meaningful system of public financing that would help create a level playing field for every qualified candidate. We support carefully drawn disclosure rules. We support reasonable limits on campaign contributions and we support stricter enforcement of existing bans on coordination between candidates and super PACs.

Some argue that campaign finance laws can be surgically drafted to protect legitimate political speech while restricting speech that leads to undue influence by wealthy special interests. Experience over the last 40 years has taught us that money always finds an outlet, and the endless search for loopholes simply creates the next target for new regulation. It also contributes to cynicism about our political process.

Any rule that requires the government to determine what political speech is legitimate and how much political speech is appropriate is difficult to reconcile with the First Amendment. Our system of free expression is built on the premise that the people get to decide what speech they want to hear; it is not the role of the government to make that decision for them.

It is also useful to remember that the mixture of money and politics long predates Citizens United and would not disappear even if Citizens United were overruled. The 2008 presidential election, which took place before Citizens United,was the most expensive in U.S. history until that point. The super PACs that have emerged in the 2012 election cycle have been funded with a significant amount of money from individuals, not corporations, and individual spending was not even at issue in Citizens United.

https://www.aclu.org/free-speech/aclu-and-citizens-united


BrianBaker: Posted: August 19, 2014 1:04 p.m.

"Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

"The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only."

So much for freedom of the press, since the "press" consists of corporations, for the most part. The one upside to this total baloney is that unions, lawyers groups, teachers, and all the other lefty outfits would also lose their "rights".

The sword cuts both ways.

The ACLU is also full of it (as usual):

"Thus, the ACLU supports a comprehensive and meaningful system of public financing that would help create a level playing field for every qualified candidate."

"Public financing" means tax dollars. So we'd be FORCED, through our taxes, to "support" candidates with whom we don't agree.

Further, WHO gets to decide who's a "qualified candidate"?


I have to say, I absolutely LOVE the fact that the Citizens United case got all the Dem/socialists' panties in a wad! Whenever that happens, you just KNOW something went right for a change.


stevehw: Posted: August 19, 2014 1:40 p.m.

Because nothing is better for Democracy than secret campaign contributions by the ultrawealthy and huge corporations.


BrianBaker: Posted: August 19, 2014 1:45 p.m.

Nice slogan.


tech: Posted: August 19, 2014 2:39 p.m.

What's your position on secret ballots while voting, Steve?


tech: Posted: August 19, 2014 2:41 p.m.

Heavy Hitters: Top All-Time Donors, 1989-2014

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php


BrianBaker: Posted: August 19, 2014 2:47 p.m.

Hahahahaha!

That's a great list, tech.

Looks like, as usual, the socialists are forming a circular firing squad on this issue.

They'd be hurt a LOT worse than the conservatives.


stevehw: Posted: August 19, 2014 3:09 p.m.

" this list does not include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife Miriam donated nearly $93 million in 2012 alone to conservative super PACs — enough to put him at No. 2 on this list. Similarly, the list excludes former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has donated more than $19 million in the past two years, largely to groups that support gun control. Neither Adelson nor Bloomberg — or the organizations they report as their employers — qualifies as a "heavy hitter" under our current definition. It's also important to note that we aren't including donations to politically active dark money groups, like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers, or the liberal group Patriot Majority — because these groups hide their donors; see a list of top donors that we've been able to identify to such groups. We are working to revise this list to take into account the new realities of campaign finance created by the Citizens United decision, but as it currently stands, there are significant omissions."


BrianBaker: Posted: August 19, 2014 3:36 p.m.

Sounds to me like it's still a circular firing squad for you guys, stevie. Adelson's paltry $93 mill is nothing compared to the rest of "your" donor list, and WAY behind the #1 ActBlue's $113.75 mill.

And don't forget that Bloomie's paltry $19 mill also goes into "YOUR" column.

That's okay. Let's just go ahead and ratify that amendment. If it takes lefty money out of politics -- unions, teachers, lawyers -- and shuts up the LATimes, NY Times and all the rest -- which it will, the way it's worded -- I think that'd be real interesting.

You guys would be just plain flat-out sunk.



stevehw: Posted: August 19, 2014 3:54 p.m.

Do you bother to read past the information which supports your previously defined conclusions?

"It is also worth noting that certain organizations, such as ActBlue and Club for Growth, are included *********although they function for the most part as pass-through entities: individual donors give to them with the contributions earmarked for specific candidates************."


stevehw: Posted: August 19, 2014 3:58 p.m.

BTW, I'm not even saying I support such an amendment (I think it's poorly worded and overly broad, to begin with...)

I was only pointing out that it sure didn't say anything like what some bible-thumper claimed it did.


BrianBaker: Posted: August 19, 2014 4:07 p.m.

Whether or not they're pass-through entities is irrelevant to the topic, as they're the source of funds that go into the Dem column.

Also glad to hear you don't think such an amendment is a good idea. For whatever reason.


tech: Posted: August 19, 2014 4:52 p.m.

"Do you bother to read past the information which supports your previously defined conclusions?" - stevehw

Given my thorough reading of court decisions we've previously discussed, do you imagine I'm so intellectually lazy that I failed to read a few paragraphs, Steve?

Although I understand how the list is disruptive to the leftist narrative, do you think it's probable that donations post Citizens United dwarf those of the prior 2+ decades? --edited.


DontBeSheeple: Posted: August 19, 2014 4:55 p.m.

While it is true that the Left has worked against the 1st amendment at their convenience, the Right has done the same. In this case, a 1st amendment argument is absurd here. The Ridiculous Religious Right is yet another corporate shill group.
C'mon people, both sides are corporate prostitutes and removal of PACs, SuperPACs and all other corporate shell donor groups cleans up politics.
Too many of our elected officials are millionaires from their "donations" and can no longer see what is good for the country, only for their bank accounts.
Fire all the bums and elect without corporate $$$$$$$$$$$$$


tech: Posted: August 19, 2014 5:03 p.m.

I've never witnessed or been exposed to a legislative solution to keep money out of politics that didn't impinge on free speech rights. Invariably, such proposals amount to incumbent protection acts.


BrianBaker: Posted: August 19, 2014 5:06 p.m.

Better yet, why don't we have a government-approved list of people allowed to state opinions on political topics and candidates? And have a requirement that anyone with a net worth exceeding the price of a new Volkswagen is BANNED from being in politics? And only atheists may propose any new laws?

How's that sound?


stevehw: Posted: August 19, 2014 5:12 p.m.

"Given my through reading of court decisions we've previously discussed, do you imagine I'm so intellectually lazy that I failed to read a few paragraphs, Steve?"

Was I talking to you?


tech: Posted: August 19, 2014 5:57 p.m.

Were you? Since I posted the Open Secrets link, it seemed within the realm of possibility.

Please clarify, Steve.


stevehw: Posted: August 19, 2014 6:36 p.m.

Nope. Talking to Baker.


tech: Posted: August 19, 2014 6:43 p.m.

Noted, Steve.


BrianBaker: Posted: August 19, 2014 7:49 p.m.

And Baker responded.


OldReliable: Posted: August 20, 2014 10:42 a.m.

Give it up Stevie, these guys are eating your lunch!


ricketzz: Posted: August 20, 2014 11:07 a.m.

Name one of the Founders who would be OK with Citizens United. One.

This country was founded to protect the People from Tyranny. There is no greater tyranny than that of a landed aristocracy. Some Founders advocated Inheritance taxes so high they'd prevent inherited wealth completely. We have dialed back from that (too far IMHO).

Charles and David Koch never worked a day in their lives and their family has been trying to overthrow my government since the 1950s; why should they have a voice in my government? At least George Soros (now inactive) risked his life fighting totalitarians.


tech: Posted: August 20, 2014 12:15 p.m.

farcical |ˈfärsikəl| adjective
of or resembling a farce, esp. because of absurd or ridiculous aspects: a farcical tangle of events.


FreedomMarch: Posted: August 20, 2014 12:18 p.m.

ricketzz response to a full frontal attack on our Constitution sounds like a line delivered from the script of "Reds" where Warren Beatty pontificates about deliverance of the working class from the clutches of corruption. He should move to Europe and live the life that this attitude has promoted.


stevehw: Posted: August 20, 2014 2:11 p.m.

" He should move to Europe and live the life that this attitude has promoted. "

No, he's entitled to his view of what he thinks is wrong with the U.S., and his own ideas of how they should be fixed.


tech: Posted: August 20, 2014 2:53 p.m.

Agreed, Steve. Public airing of views provides a basis for discussion and vetting of proposed solutions for practical application.

Contributions should also be reviewed empirically for usefulness as well.


ricketzz: Posted: August 21, 2014 10:13 a.m.

FreedomMarch doesn't get around much anymore. Many revolutionary movements since our Founding have used the language of our Founders because they use the concepts of our Founders. Tyranny and power are the same thing.


ricketzz: Posted: August 22, 2014 9:16 a.m.

Name one of the Founders who would be OK with Citizens United. One.


tech: Posted: August 22, 2014 12:23 p.m.

In other news, the Founders were unavailable for comment on Citizens United.


ricketzz: Posted: August 24, 2014 10:02 a.m.

Tech is suddenly incapable of abstract thought.

Applying the stated principles of any of the Founders to a ruling that allows the wealthy to use unlimited spending to influence elections shouldn't be that hard for a great American such as you.

Remember, the Founders hated the Aristocracy. The Roberts Court is of the Aristocracy.


tech: Posted: August 24, 2014 11:51 p.m.

Have you even read the Citizens United decision?


tech: Posted: August 25, 2014 12:01 a.m.

Do your homework and stop parroting rhetoric from 3rd parties, ricketzz. You're retired now and have the time.

http://www2.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Citizens_United_v_Federal_Election_Commission_130_S_Ct_876_175_L_


ricketzz: Posted: August 25, 2014 10:37 a.m.

I am not a Bloomberg member.

Here are some cartoons:

http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-citizens-united-v-fec/


tech: Posted: August 25, 2014 1:07 p.m.

You don't have to be a Bloomberg subscriber and cartoons aren't a substitute for a SCOTUS decision.

Click on the link and read if you're serious, ricketzz. --edited.


ricketzz: Posted: August 26, 2014 10:16 a.m.

The Supreme Court is a corrupt institution, politicized by the Reagan Revolution and Corporatized under the Bush Crime Family. You speak of them like you still believe they are just calling balls and strikes.

FEC didn't ask for the sweeping ruling; the Court assigned itself to matters not before it; using Citizens United as a flimsy excuse. They overturned 150 years of precedent instead of just ruling on a "No 3rd Party Electioneering within 30 days of the election" prohibition in existing election law (or something to that effect.) They exceeded their authority and did major damage to Democracy, just like they did in December 2000.


CaptGene: Posted: August 26, 2014 3:33 p.m.

cricketzz: "The Supreme Court is a corrupt institution, politicized by the Reagan Revolution and Corporatized under the Bush Crime Family."

Can I have a show of hands, is there anyone here that takes this clown seriously?


tech: Posted: August 26, 2014 6:59 p.m.

"They overturned 150 years of precedent instead of just ruling on a "No 3rd Party Electioneering within 30 days of the election" prohibition in existing election law (or something to that effect.)" - ricketzz

Umm… what law was in effect for 150 years that Citizens United made unconstitutional, ricketzz?


ricketzz: Posted: August 27, 2014 10:06 a.m.

[Umm...] is a little too informal for this forum. If you have senior moments you don't need to tell the rest of us.

"The Federal Election Campaign Laws:A Short History Before the 1971 Federal Elections Laws

The first Federal campaign finance legislation was an 1867 law that prohibited Federal officers from requesting contributions from Navy Yard workers. Over the next hundred years, Congress enacted a series of laws which sought broader regulation of Federal campaign financing. These legislative initiatives, taken together, sought to:

Limit contributions to ensure that wealthy individuals and special interest groups did not have a disproportionate influence on Federal elections;
Prohibit certain sources of funds for Federal campaign purposes;
Control campaign spending; and
Require public disclosure of campaign finances to deter abuse and to educate the electorate." -FEC.gov


tech: Posted: August 27, 2014 12:15 p.m.

Despite the FEC's self-advocacy assertions, you still haven't read the Citizens United decision, have you?

Otherwise, you wouldn't make the mistake of stating it overturned "150 years of precedent".


CaptGene: Posted: August 27, 2014 12:28 p.m.

cricketzz: "The first Federal campaign finance legislation was an 1867 law that prohibited Federal officers from requesting contributions from Navy Yard workers"

Were these "Federal officers" a corporation? This whole "150 years of precedent" thing appears to be original cricketzz, or did you get it from one of your tin foil hat blogs?


ricketzz: Posted: August 29, 2014 10:43 a.m.

When our country was founded the modern Corporation did not exist; it was probably unimaginable because it is such a stupid idea.

http://americablog.com/2011/12/thom-hartmann-on-how-corporations-acquired-personhood.html


tech: Posted: August 29, 2014 6:21 p.m.

Speaking of stupid, there's this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation#History

The "modern" modifier doesn't excuse you, ricketzz. How would a government chartered or mercantilist corporate entity be more enlightened? Were you a fan of the British East India Company? --edited.


ricketzz: Posted: August 30, 2014 10:37 a.m.

The British East India Company is the reason for our rebellion. It was their ships and their tea the Sons of Liberty vandalized in 1773. Betsy Ross stole their corporate flag.

And now you think our Founders wanted us to demur to corporate will?


tech: Posted: August 30, 2014 9:33 p.m.

Straw man, ricketzz.

I'm mocking your knowledge of history and corporations. Think of it as flicking the propeller on your statist beanie.


ricketzz: Posted: September 1, 2014 10:41 a.m.

What straw man, crazy person? Tell me, oh enlightened one.

The Modern Corporation is the post SCOTUS corporation that can lie and cheat with abandon as long as it advances the "interests" of the shareholders. Modern Corporations are the ones who move factories to slave countries, reduce costs, pocket the difference, and give nothing back to the country that birthed them (and the consumerist lifestyle that keeps most of them in [shady] business.)

Merchants and bankers are Tyrannies as described by the Founders. The British East India Company was the WalMart of the 18th century. If WalMart married BP.


tech: Posted: September 2, 2014 1:00 p.m.

"And now you think our Founders wanted us to demur to corporate will?" <---- This is a straw man.

A straw man is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on the misrepresentation of an opponent's argument.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man


ricketzz: Posted: September 4, 2014 9:44 a.m.

Your sniping gets annoying. Instead of just saying that I misunderstood your intent you go off on this elaborate "straw man" distraction. I listen to Limbaugh; I know all about straw men.

Now what is it you are trying to say? What about the Founders leads you to believe they'd be cool with big companies controlling the political process? One dollar one vote vs one person one vote. The closest they got was males only and 60% humans for purposes of allocations. The Founders hated the King's cronies at British East India (the cheap tea people). (There is nothing more distasteful than a well connected idiot throwing other peoples' weight around.)

Do you know what the reason was for the Boston Tea Party? Are you sure?

http://www.thomhartmann.com/articles/2007/11/america%E2%80%99s-first-anti-globalization-protest


ricketzz: Posted: September 12, 2014 8:09 a.m.

The Bill was blocked by the Minority in the Senate, even though it had 53 supporters. This isn't over.

I hope the "solution" removes all aggregate donors; institutional, fraternal, corporate, partisan, etc. The maximum spent on a national candidate should be one dollar for each citizen. A family of 5 gets to donate $5. Same deal for local, state races.



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