January 27, 2010
The Supreme Court's atrocious Citizen's United green light for unlimited corporate campaign spending had a willing accomplice---the American Civil Liberties Union.
As long-time supporters, we are horrified by the ACLU's betrayal of political reality and plain common sense.
Keith Olberman has called him a "Quisling" for aiding and abetting this catastrophic confirmation of corporate "personhood."
The ACLU has long been the go-to stalwart of First Amendment rights. Its list of accomplishments is long, impressive and essential.
The ACLU has also defended the right of such loathsome haters as the Ku Klux Klan to gather and speak.
In these and other such cases, the ACLU has been right, and has courageously paid a price.
But perhaps the organization has confused those valid First Amendment cases with a Citizen's United decision perpetrated by the most virulent judicial opponents of individual speech in the history of the Court. In reference to this case the ACLU says it "has consistently taken the position that section 203 is facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it permits the suppression of core political speech, and our amicus brief takes that position again."
We respectfully---but vehemently---disagree. Simply put: money is not speech, corporations are not people.
Given the immense sums of cash these corporations have to spend, the Citizen's United decision is the equivalent not of guaranteeing individual Nazis the freedom to march, but instead of granting the Party itself the right to drive tanks down the street, guns ablazing.
Nowhere in the Constitution do the Founders mention the word corporation. There were a small handful of them at the time of ratification, all strictly limited by state charter to where and what kind of business they could do. They bear scant resemblance to the multi-national behemoths we confront today. Those who wrote and ratified the First Amendment would be horrified by their very existence.
The moneyed power of these corporations and their access to the First Amendment through the myth of "personhood" has been the ultimate pox on American politics since the 1880s.