Jan. 22nd, 2010

boutell: (Default)
I haven't made up my mind about yesterday's surprise Supreme Court decision effectively allowing corporations (nonprofits, for-profits, labor unions, whatever) to spend as much on political advertising as they like.

This is an excellent collection of arguments on both sides.

People For the American Way is calling for a constitutional amendment to limit the role of money in politics. Many other liberal organizations to which I belong are doing the same. I have my doubts about the wisdom of that.

Corporations are ultimately controlled by their shareholders, institutional and individual, whether those stakeholders choose to exercise their power effectively for good corporate governance or not. So in that sense their speech is collective speech on the part of the shareholders.

Corporations that happen to own media outlets could already spend as much as they want making their political positions felt.

"One person one vote, not one dollar one vote" is fine to say, but freedom of the press was never meant as a guarantee that everybody would have an equally effective printing press.

Until yesterday's decision, labor unions were under the same restrictions as Exxon. Did that make sense?

If a rich guy wanted to spend a few million on an issue ad personally, he could legally do it under the old rules. If I wanted to pull together with 999 other people and make that ad happen myself, I'd probably have to form a corporation, so I wouldn't have been able to do it. Did that make sense?

Yes, the thought of Exxon spending billions of profit $$$ to sink every pro-environment congressman in the US worries me, though it might not work out that way if they are required to disclose their identity in the ad. But I don't see a good way to cut that knot without chilling effects elsewhere.

Opinions welcome.

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