The President of the United States (brought to you by Doritos!)

Now, I haven't had time to fully wrap my brain around the Supreme Court's latest big-time decision, Citizens United, but I think the satire of one Stephen Colbert aptly and somewhat frighteningly sums it up.

In short, we could very soon be treated to political candidates endorsed by Corporations, products, brand names, and other big business. Of course, big business has been in the pockets of politics since the foundation of our country, but this decision is going to make it very interesting. I'm almost always a supporter of "More Speech is Good Speech."

But in this instance, giving First Amendment speech protections to large corporations seems like arming a handful of CEOs with bazookas in a paintball fight. I'm just waiting for the first iCandidate to win the U.S. Presidency, who will live in the McDonald's White House and do business in the Oval(tine) Office (R).


Kenny said...

Part of me wants to say, "All this does is put in the open what has been happening under the table for years," as I know of one person in my family who was offered a "bonus" at work to cover the cost of making a political contribution.

Part of me wants to say, "Well yeah, but at least make them work for it!"

But mostly I just mourn Chief Justice Rehnquist all the more. Corporate personhood was supposed to be a metaphor, a convenient legal fiction. Corporations may be made of people, but they are emphatically not actually people--they are sociopathic entities required by law to pursue profits. (Rational self-interest I can handle, but corporations are something else entirely.)

So yeah. I'm with you--torn.

I try to take solace in the possibility that this is the first step down the road to total corporate sovereignty, which will surely result in the cyberpunk future we've all been longing for...

...right? d^_^b

Ru said...

I have to say, I'm not even torn. I consider myself a First Amendment purist, but I am flatly opposed to this opinion.

Look, folks. Stare decisis is not the same as the laws of physics. It's a legal principle that helps legitimize our legal process, but it should rule only so far as it makes logical sense. Just because once upon a time we said corporations have legal personality doesn't make them people entitled to civil liberties. (And yes, this attitude is why I will never get to be a judge.) In short, it just bugs me when judges act like, "Oh no, we can't overrule that precedent!" Even though they overruled a different precedent like six seconds ago.

PS - Um, can I just tell you how much I love that last paragraph? Makes me nostalgic for our Chronicle days and the biblical epic of Rocky Anderson.

ebv said...

@Kenny: I most definitely yearn for that cyberpunk future. It will stand as a fulfillment of everything Hollywood has told me would happen to our future. Blade Runner, Minority Report, WALL*E, and a slew of pre-apocalyptic Schwarzallone movies all predicted this kind of corporate takeover. And if I can get the kind of kewl gadgetry that permeates those futuristic worlds, count me in! Of course, when the computers take over ala Matrix, I may want to eat those words...

@Ruthanne: I miss those days, too. We may have disagreed on issues, but damn we could put out a great OpEd.

And for the record, I think I'm leaning towards your opinion on this. Corporations are a legal fiction, entitled to "person" status almost entirely to facilitate the ability of /real/, /honest to goodness/ human beings to bring them to Court for the naughty things they've done.

It seems absurd to grant some of the most fundamental civil rights to a moniker, trademark, or brand, as though these "things" could exercise them. I don't see Coca-Cola brandishing firearms, arguing for Due Process, or exercising its right to face its accusers. (for the record, we ALL hated New Coke). I'm sure there's a great paper being written out there by someone much smarter than me on this issue.

Also, stare decisis got screwed to the wall on this one. So did originalism. WHERE in the Federalist Papers or in any kind of Colonial period document or treatise do you find anyone even considering that a corporate being should enjoy the same rights and liberties as individuals?!

Good to rant on these things. Thanks, guys!