Author Topic: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision  (Read 4330 times)

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Kramer

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/us/politics/04scotus.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

February 4, 2010
Justice Defends Ruling on Finance
By ADAM LIPTAK

WASHINGTON — In expansive remarks at a law school in Florida, Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday vigorously defended the Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance decision.

And Justice Thomas explained that he did not attend State of the Union addresses — he missed the dust-up when President Obama used the occasion last week to criticize the court’s decision — because the gatherings had turned so partisan.

Justice Thomas responded to several questions from students at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., concerning the campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. By a 5-to-4 vote, with Justice Thomas in the majority, the court ruled last month that corporations had a First Amendment right to spend money to support or oppose political candidates.

“I found it fascinating that the people who were editorializing against it were The New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company,” Justice Thomas said. “These are corporations.”

The part of the McCain-Feingold law struck down in Citizens United contained an exemption for news reports, commentaries and editorials. But Justice Thomas said that reflected a legislative choice rather than a constitutional principle.

He added that the history of Congressional regulation of corporate involvement in politics had a dark side, pointing to the Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in 1907.

“Go back and read why Tillman introduced that legislation,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Senator Benjamin Tillman. “Tillman was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them.”

It is thus a mistake, the justice said, to applaud the regulation of corporate speech as “some sort of beatific action.”

Justice Thomas said the First Amendment’s protections applied regardless of how people chose to assemble to participate in the political process.

“If 10 of you got together and decided to speak, just as a group, you’d say you have First Amendment rights to speak and the First Amendment right of association,” he said. “If you all then formed a partnership to speak, you’d say we still have that First Amendment right to speak and of association.”

“But what if you put yourself in a corporate form?” Justice Thomas asked, suggesting that the answer must be the same.

Asked about his attitude toward the two decisions overruled in Citizens United, he said, “If it’s wrong, the ultimate precedent is the Constitution.”

Justice Thomas would not directly address the controversy over Mr. Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United ruling or Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s mouthed “not true” in response. But he did say he had stopped attending the addresses.

“I don’t go because it has become so partisan and it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there,” he said, adding that “there’s a lot that you don’t hear on TV — the catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments.”

“One of the consequences,” he added in an apparent reference to last week’s address, “is now the court becomes part of the conversation, if you want to call it that, in the speeches. It’s just an example of why I don’t go.”

BT

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2010, 12:46:37 AM »
The whole issue is whether a corporation should have the same rights as an individual, and i'm not sure that it does. If for the only reason, that on paper, corporations are immortal, and individuals are not. In that sense corporations have an unfair advantage.



Plane

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2010, 05:30:52 AM »
Are corporations made up of persons?

BT

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2010, 05:55:32 AM »
Are corporations made up of persons?

Yes, but those persons already have rights individually.

I'm not sure whether an entity (corporation or union for that matter) not entitled to vote should be able to donate to political campaigns.

The argument that corporations are associations of people with common interests in my mind really isn't a good argument as the association is more about money than public policy.


Religious Dick

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2010, 06:12:08 AM »
Well, as Justice Roberts pointed out, what the the 1st Amendment protects is the speech itself, it doesn't make any distinctions as to the speaker. Framed that way, congress has no power to restrict speech regardless of whether the origin is persons, corporations, labor unions, newspapers, foreign nationals, dogs, cats, etc.

The 1st isn't a grant of individual rights, it's a restriction on the authority of the government to legislate.
I speak of civil, social man under law, and no other.
-Sir Edmund Burke

BT

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Religious Dick

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2010, 06:29:10 AM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood_debate

Right, but my point here is that "personhood" is extraneous to the issue. The 1st doesn't make any mention of persons:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


It simply states that congress shall not make any laws abridging freedom of speech. The question doesn't revolve around the rights of "persons", but the authority of congress to make laws.
I speak of civil, social man under law, and no other.
-Sir Edmund Burke

BT

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Universe Prince

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2010, 02:58:12 PM »

http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_10323851

Quote from: that article

Chris Crawford, who chaired the “No on Measure T” committee, called the ordinance “patently unfair on its face” and said it was really special interest advocacy cloaking itself in finance reform.

”Measure T said, 'This group can't contribute, but this group can,'” Crawford said. “It applied to businesses but not unions or nonprofits.”

O & M Industries estimates that roughly 75 percent of its employees reside in Humboldt County, while Mercer-Fraser Co. says roughly 98 percent of its workforce resides within county lines. Under Measure T guidelines, both companies are considered non-local.

“To me, it makes no difference. I don't care if none of them live in Humboldt County,” Crawford said. “But don't tell me that unions can contribute (to campaigns) and businesses can't.”

Seems to me Crawford has it right. And so does Religious Dick. And do does Ilya Shapiro, http://tinyurl.com/yhhubpc.
Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
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sirs

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 03:24:20 PM »
Precisely.  If legislation targets corporations, but gives unions and so called "non profit" organizations like the NAACP, which are also simply made up of "individuals", its bad legislation.  Either target everyone or no one
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

BT

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2010, 05:28:17 PM »
Quote
Either target everyone or no one

Exactly.

But then the debate turns upon whether a corporation is protected by the 14th amendment where personhood is the issue..

Christians4LessGvt

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2010, 05:53:38 PM »
The whole issue is whether a corporation should have the same rights as an individual, and i'm not sure that it does. If for the only reason, that on paper, corporations are immortal, and individuals are not. In that sense corporations have an unfair advantage.

I am assuming you feel exactly the same way about Unions?
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" - Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987

sirs

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2010, 06:04:23 PM »
Quote
Either target everyone or no one

Exactly.

But the legislation in question does address that, does it?  IIRC, this ruling by scotus lessens the restrictions on everyone, but everyone is having a huff on how it "helps corporations".  Where's the critical guff on how its helping unions??



"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

BT

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2010, 06:32:40 PM »
As far as i am concerned unions are corporations. So are non profits 501-c's etc.

They are creations of the state.


sirs

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Re: Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously defended campaign finance decision
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2010, 07:11:21 PM »
I can agree with that.  But no one that I'm aware of is calling this an outrageous or even improper decision benefiting unions and non-profits.  I sense a bit of unfairness in such critiques of the ruling aimed at how it helps "corporations"....present compnay excluded of course
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle