Friday, April 9, 2010

Citizens United v. "Citizens United"

Although Mike Capuano (D-MA) is the bluest congressman from the bluest district of the bluest state in the Union, he was unable to wrest the 2009 Democratic Senatorial nomination away from bluestocking Martha Coakley.

In retrospect, Bay State Democrats may have made a mistake.

Be that as it may, Capuano has now sponsored The Shareholder Protection Act of 2010 (H.R. 4790) which, if passed, will go a long way toward mitigating the effect of the egregious Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a decision that bids fair to flood the political landscape with corporate dollars.

No matter that the Court has deemed corporations legal persons (and therefore entitled to free-speech protection), corporations are not people. But shareholders are, and that is the thrust of Mike’s bill.

Historically, shareholders have not had a way to know, or to influence, the political activities of corporations they own. They and the public have a right to know how corporations are spending their funds to make political contributions or expenditures benefitting candidates, political parties and political causes.

The Shareholder Protection Act would:
· Ensure that shareholders’ political interests are accurately represented by their corporation.
· Require an authorizing vote of a majority of shareholders before general treasury funds can be spent on political activities.
· Require quarterly notification to all shareholders on corporations’ contributions.

For those who would wish to see labor union—and other—contributions similarly scrutinized, Senators Schumer and Van Hollen have jointly proposed legislation to that effect.

Such a combination of political initiatives should satisfy virtually the entire ideological spectrum, with the possible exception of those who view any restraint on the purchase of political influence as a threat to liberty.

I urge you to contact your Representatives in support of this bill.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Supremes Redux

Readers may recall that I have previously lamented the Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision in Citizens United v. FEC as being—to use the most charitable animadversion that comes to mind—less than sound.

No lawyer myself, I am nevertheless supported in such heterodoxy by Justice John Paul Stevens, whose eloquent dissent is a model of jurisprudential common sense. Even more eloquent is the outrage of the American public, which—according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll—opposes the decision by an 80% margin.

The facts of the case are by now well known and have been debated in the press and the blogosphere ad nauseam, so I won't rehash them herein. What is new, however, is that Citizens United, a self-declared lobbyist, having convinced the Court’s conservative majority that CU's corporate underwriters are persons (and therefore subject to the free speech provisions of the 1st Amendment), is now asking the FEC to declare CU a media company of the sort entitled to the special latitude granted to the news media under the Federal Election Campaign Act and McCain-Feingold.

Americans are all too well aware of the sins against accuracy, fairness and objectivity committed by the press over the past couple of centuries, but, for a propaganda-film producer like Citizens United, whose sole purpose is to manufacture and distribute agitprop, to claim to be a practitioner of legitimate journalism, is sophistry run amok.

One can only hope that the FEC is more cognizant of the perniciousness of money-driven political corruption than is the current Supreme Court, and will, consequently, turn down the Citizens United petition.