Government for sale

Justin Baggott
SIU Alumnius

January 21, 2010 should be marked on our calendars as the day the government sold out for good.

Before that day, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed the only branch of government not corrupted by special interests. After the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this is no longer the case.

I believe corruption is the only way to explain this decision because there is no other way those nine intelligent individuals could have decided that corporations are people or that money is speech.

The argument that money is speech can be defended to some degree by a law professor at SIU, who used to state, “Your right to swing your fist stops at my face.”

This was her way of explaining how one individual’s rights sometimes end where another’s rights begin. This is also true of money as speech because freedom of speech is about an individual’s equal right to speech; someone with millions of dollars to contribute can drown out the many poorer citizens. For this reason, while money may be considered free speech, that speech must be held equal as it was in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or it violates the free speech of others.

The argument of personhood for corporations is absolutely ridiculous and impossible to defend. The entire point of forming a corporation is to create profit for an individual without taking individual risk. The other premise that a corporation’s money is speech is overruled by the definition of a corporation as an entity for profit. Making a campaign contribution, or “gift,” is not profitable unless there is some level of corruption at hand.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Justice John Paul Stevens dissented, making the point that “Legal entities are not ‘We The People’ for whom our Constitution was established” and that “Corporate spending is transactional, not ideological.”

Now we see the floodgates open and many big donors — some just individuals — are creating corporations for the sole purpose of funneling money to politicians.

Some of these Super PACs are not even required to list donors, so the vast majority of voters will never know who is trying to influence their decision or why.

A study by Wesleyan Media Project showed that special interest funding of political advertising has increased 1,600 percent from 2008 to 2012. In 2011, half of the total Super PAC contributions came from just 22 donors.

Recently the Montana Supreme Court upheld a state law limiting corporate contributions, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked it in February.

In his dissenting opinion, James Nelson stated that “Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government.”

This brings up another flaw in the decision that any individual’s bill of rights would be given to a legal entity created by the government. The last major flaw is each individual involved in a corporation has his or her own rights as an individual, so there cannot be another set of rights given to them as a group.

Winning elections has always been expensive. But these days, politicians have no choice but to sell out to remain competitive. The interests of those who buy are usually in opposition with the majority of voters.

The only way out of this mess is a Constitutional amendment or a revolution — so let’s start paying attention to whom we place in Congress this cycle so an amendment can pass.


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