Congress shall make no law…

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is as follows:

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.

It is beautiful in its simplicity. Elegant speech, no superfluous words, and direct to the point. Protecting rights and freedoms.

I feel it necessary to remind everyone of that amendment, because the Democrats currently in power seem to have forgotten what it means:

The bill isn’t simply a spending disclosure reform; the Disclose Act also wouldbar"electioneering communications" by corporations that have government contracts worth more than $10 million, received TARP funds or are controlled by foreign entities. So it’s not simply about disclosure, it’s also about suppressing free speech.

You also would not know that while proponents frame the bill as a response to theU.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United ruling, which lifted restrictions on independent political advertising by labor and corporations, the House version of the bill imposed restrictions on the above corporations – with no parallel restrictions on labor.

Another view from the U.S.Chamber of Commerce:

The administration declared Monday that the Disclose Act "takes great strides to hold corporations who participate in the Nation’s elections accountable to the American people. As this is a matter of urgent importance, the administration urges prompt passage of the Disclose Act."

But Josten says the act would heavily restrict the rights of more than 100,000 associations nationwide to run ads expressing their political views.

Groups opposing the measure span the political continuum, including the ACLU, the Sierra Club, PIRG (the federation of state public interest research groups), the chamber and many others.

The chamber recently called the bill a "desperate attempt" by Democrats to grab a political advantage in the midterm elections.

And from Don Surber:

Apparently our government is run by people who do not understand what “no law” means.

Indeed.

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2 thoughts on “Congress shall make no law…

  1. Larry, the Democrats are going about it _all_wrong_. The fact is, our founding fathers (I’m a US citizen) knew about corporations (e.g. British East India Company, whose exclusive franchise to the tea trade in the 1700s is the reason Americans to this day drink coffee), but intentionally did not mention them (or grant them rights) in the Constitution. Anyone who takes the time to read the document would conclude this.

    Instead of attacking corporate influence directly, I think any Constitution-loving American elected official needs to attack “corporate personhood” as the assault on the Constitution which it is.

    Without personhood, corporations won’t wield as much influence (or have the “right” to electioneer even when no one else can), but that’s okay. Their stockholders, board members, officers, and employees will still be there to speak for them. In effect, all it will do is remove the twice-the-voice that comes when members of a corp get to exercise their influence first as individuals and then again as part of the group.

  2. I believe that what W^L+ writes here is completely correct.

    The First Amendment is about protecting the rights of natural person not corporations.

    Regulation of the corporations with regards to how they participation in the political discourse doesn’t actually limit the rights of a natural person.

    Speaking as a Non-US Citizen it is obvious that the corporations are manipulating the political discourse to their own profits – not for the benefit of the people – government of the people, for the people.

    For example, it would be highly likely that the climate-change sceptics are backed by the corporations with oil and coal interests. It is the right wing politicians who bleat about losing jobs overseas, yet it is their financial backers who are the ones who off-shore work because it costs them less to use labour in other countries… then they scream for tariff protection to protect their profits when foreigners beat them at their own game with better and cheaper products.

    The corporations (and right wing politicians) champion the free market, then when a financial crisis hits, demand to be rescued by the government.

    It doesn’t make sense that the US electorate lets the corporations get away with the stuff they do.

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