Corporate Rights and Wrongs

The recent Supreme Court decision finally got me upset enough to blog again. Especially since I haven’t seen anyone trying to talk about the validity of the decision. The press, and even the President can only seem to speak of the consequences of the decision, but the fundamental errors of judgement made by these so-called justices demand that someone speak out because the court itself has so lost sight of what they were sworn to protect.

Preamble of the Constitution

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I am quoting the preamble to give the proper context to the First Amendment, which is what the Supreme Court claims to be protecting with their recent decision.

First Amendment

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.

Excuse me Supreme Court? Exactly what part of of that applies to corporate paid political advertisements? The press may be incorporated it is true, but the free press exists to serve the public interest. (You know justice, domestic tranquility, general welfare, liberty and all that.) What “for profit” corporations exist to serve any of those purposes? In fact do “for profit” news corporations actually serve this purpose? Are corporations now considered a peaceable assembly looking for a redress of grievances? Where ever did the court get the idea that a corporation, organized for profit, has the right of free speech?

I am not opposed to CEOs - spending their salaries, or stock owners - spending their profits, on publishing their personal political opinions. The problem I see is two-fold. One is that corporations do not speak for a political collective (like a peaceful assembly of citizens). If anything they are speaking only for their owners yet wield power over their employees. Second, their interests are not those of the free press nor of a citizenry. They are in fact a group which is antithetical to a free press. They represent the very factionalism that the government of the United States was created to combat.

In the world of our founding fathers, to exercise the right of free speech it was enough to print a pamphlet and distribute it among the population. While it still required money and very possibly “corporate” backing to embark on such an enterprise, the means of distribution amounted to speaking in public, going door to door, or riding a horse. Nowadays the means of distribution itself is in the hands of huge corporations. Recent advances in technology have made it possible for anyone to produce media rich content. But let’s face it, much like any marketing campaign, if you want to be seen on prime time television you still have to buy your way through a corporate gatekeeper or create enough public awareness that the corporate media will come to you.

In the case of political messages, surely the public interest is better served when political messages are not pushed through the media by monied interests, yet our so-called Supreme Court has now asserted that these monied interests, represented by corporations, have the same rights as people. I say that is a load of bull, and quite frankly this kind of behavior by our government is why we have a Second Amendment.

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