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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/29/10

Which End Of The Horse Did The Supreme Court Decision Come From, Throwing Our Elections Open To Corporations?

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Today we resume with our 7th installment in the series body slamming the Supreme Court decision declaring our country the United Trans-Global Corporations of America.

OK, so here we go again. A Supreme Court decision is supposed to be the words straight from the horse's mouth. But the one in the Corporations United case calls into question which end of the horse it came from.

Where we last left our villains on the Supreme Court we were talking about how Kennedy, besides his own fact finding errors, had built his entire decision on misreading the actual holdings of the cases he was citing, relying instead on dissents (often his own) and dicta (stray language) which are NOT supposed to take precedence.

Central to Kennedy's specious analysis is his quotation OUT of context (opinion at p. 30) of this language from the Belloti decision putatively rejecting

"the proposition that speech that OTHERWISE would be within the protection of the First Amendment loses that protection simply because its source is a corporation".

Here WE emphasize the word "otherwise" in this passage because it is pivotal and the only one that really matters. Kennedy would read this rejection, of the hypothetical proposition stated, as a declaration that corporations have unlimited and ABSOLUTE First Amendment free speech rights. The Belloti decision held NO such thing. It says here only that corporations have SOME free speech rights, subject to other limitations provided elsewhere.

And indeed elsewhere in the Belloti decision it in fact expressly limited itself to the issue of whether corporations can participate in a debate on POLICY issues in public discourse. The issue of whether corporations can without any regulation or restriction participate in CANDIDATE advocacy, in particular within 30 days of an election, as per the statute overturned by Kennedy's outlaw decision, by Kennedy's own admission (opinion p. 31) the Belloti decision did NOT "address".

Here's what Belloti actually says about the intended scope of its holding.

"... our consideration of a corporation's right to speak on issue of general public interest implies no comparable right in the quite different context of participation in a political campaign for election to public office." [435 US at 788, n. 26.]

Whoop, there it is, as they say in the legal biz. The Belloti decision concerned only whether a corporation could weigh in on the merits of a referendum on a public policy issue. To explode that into a destruction of all reasonable restraints on untoward corporate influence on candidate elections is for Kennedy to play terrorist with our entire infrastructure of jurisprudence.

All this may have escaped Kennedy's horse blindered attention in arriving at his perverse result, but it sure did not escape Justice Stevens, who precisely pointed all this out in his dissent at p. 52. Nobody disputes that corporations have at least some First Amendment rights. Otherwise corporate advertising in ALL forms would be banned. But here Kennedy engages in a unilateral refusal to read the words in the Belloti decision for what they actually say.

In short, Belloti EXPRESSLY precluded the interpretation Kennedy would give it. This is beyond reckless, it is beyond irresponsible, it is beyond dishonest, it is Orwellian, and coming from the mouth of a Supreme Court justice ... it is criminal.

Likewise, in his deliberate misapplication of the Buckley case Kennedy's citation of vague language disaproving of restricting "the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others" is no more availing (opinion p. 33) to decide an issue he HIMSELF admits Buckley did not "consider" (opinion p. 29).

This is not about seeking to "enhance" the voice of citizens vis-a-vis corporations. It is exactly because corporations have overwhelmingly so much more financial power RELATIVE to individual citizens that Congress has passed reasonable regulations on them. And over the decades the Courts have affirmed these regulations over and over, to keep the voice of actual citizens from being drowned out, which regulations Kennedy now so unrighteously overturns.

Seven parts in this series already, and are we done yet ripping this heinous decision to legal shreds? Not even close. Next up in this series, the drop kick hypocrisy of Kennedy's First Amendment absolutism as applied on behalf of corporations only.

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