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Below are a few excerpts from the Citizens United v FEC minority argument by Justice Stevens (please remember that all entities [legal fictions], unions, trade associations (which may have foreign members and directors), non-profits, as well as for profit organizations are not people or persons and that all these entities are not to be construed as having individual personhood inalienable rights, and that money is not speech it is legal tender for the paying of debts). Justice Stevens is arguing that We the People, by whom and for whom our Constitution was established, are sovereign over our government:
In short, the Court dramatically overstates its critique of identity-based distinctions, without ever explaining why corporate identity demands the same treatment as individual identity. Only the most wooden approach to the First Amendment could justify the unprecedented line it seeks to draw.”
“The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare. Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment , it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind. 55 While individuals might join together to exercise their speech rights, business corporations, at least, were plainly not seen as facilitating such associational or expressive ends. Even “the notion that business corporations could invoke the First Amendment would probably have been quite a novelty,” given that “at the time, the legitimacy of every corporate activity was thought to rest entirely in a concession of the sovereign.” Shelledy, Autonomy, Debate, and Corporate Speech, 18 Hastings Const. L. Q. 541, 578 (1991); cf. Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward , 4 Wheat. 518, 636 (1819) (Marshall, C. J.) (“A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it”); Eule, Promoting Speaker Diversity: Austin and Metro Broadcasting, 1990 S. Ct. Rev. 105, 129 (“The framers of the First Amendment could scarcely have anticipated its application to the corporation form. That, of course, ought not to be dispositive. What is compelling, however, is an understanding of who was supposed to be the beneficiary of the free speech guaranty—the individual”). In light of these background practices and understandings, it seems to me implausible that the Framers believed “the freedom of speech” would extend equally to all corporate speakers, much less that it would preclude legislatures from taking limited measures to guard against corporate capture of elections. “
“On numerous occasions we have recognized Congress’ legitimate interest in preventing the money that is spent on elections from exerting an “ ‘undue influence on an officeholder’s judgment’ ” and from creating “ ‘the appearance of such influence,’ ” beyond the sphere of quid pro quo relationships. Id., at 150; see also, e.g., id., at 143–144, 152–154; Colorado II , 533 U. S., at 441; Shrink Missouri , 528 U. S., at 389. Corruption can take many forms. Bribery may be the paradigm case. But the difference between selling a vote and selling access is a matter of degree, not kind. And selling access is not qualitatively different from giving special preference to those who spent money on one’s behalf. Corruption operates along a spectrum, and the majority’s apparent belief that quid pro quo arrangements can be neatly demarcated from other improper influences does not accord with the theory or reality of politics. It certainly does not accord with the record Congress developed in passing BCRA, a record that stands as a remarkable testament to the energy and ingenuity with which corporations, unions, lobbyists, and politicians may go about scratching each other’s backs—and which amply supported Congress’ determination to target a limited set of especially destructive practices. “
“The factual findings of the Court illustrate that corporations and labor unions routinely notify Members of Congress as soon as they air electioneering communications relevant to the Members’ elections. The record also indicates that Members express appreciation to organizations for the airing of these election-related advertisements. Indeed, Members of Congress are particularly grateful when negative issue advertisements are run by these organizations, leaving the candidates free to run positive advertisements and be seen as ‘above the fray.’ Political consultants testify that campaigns are quite aware of who is running advertisements on the candidate’s behalf, when they are being run, and where they are being run. Likewise, a prominent lobbyist testifies that these organizations use issue advocacy as a means to influence various Members of Congress.
“The Findings also demonstrate that Members of Congress seek to have corporations and unions run these advertisements on their behalf. The Findings show that Members suggest that corporations or individuals make donations to interest groups with the understanding that the money contributed to these groups will assist the Member in a campaign. After the election, these organizations often seek credit for their support… . Finally, a large majority of Americans (80%) are of the view that corporations and other organizations that engage in electioneering communications, which benefit specific elected officials, receive special consideration from those officials when matters arise that affect these corporations and organizations.” Id., at 623–624 (citations and footnote omitted).”
Our “undue influence” cases have allowed the American people to cast a wider net through legislative experiments designed to ensure, to some minimal extent, “that officeholders will decide issues … on the merits or the desires of their constituencies,” and not “according to the wishes of those who have made large financial contributions”—or expenditures—“valued by the officeholder.” McConnell , 540 U. S., at 153. 63 When private interests are seen to exert outsized control over officeholders solely on account of the money spent on (or withheld from) their campaigns, the result can depart so thoroughly “from what is pure or correct” in the conduct of Government, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 512 (1966) (defining “corruption”), that it amounts to a “subversion … of the electoral process,” Automobile Workers , 352 U. S., at 575. At stake in the legislative efforts to address this threat is therefore not only the legitimacy and quality of Government but also the public’s faith therein, not only “the capacity of this democracy to represent its constituents [but also] the confidence of its citizens in their capacity to govern themselves,” WRTL , 551 U. S., at 507 (Souter, J., dissenting). “Take away Congress’ authority to regulate the appearance of undue influence and ‘the cynical assumption that large donors call the tune could jeopardize the willingness of voters to take part in democratic governance.’ ” McConnell , 540 U. S., at 144 (quoting Shrink Missouri , 528 U. S., at 390). 64 “
The fact that corporations are different from human beings might seem to need no elaboration, except that the majority opinion almost completely elides it. Austin set forth some of the basic differences. Unlike natural persons, corporations have “limited liability” for their owners and managers, “perpetual life,” separation of ownership and control, “and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets … that enhance their ability to attract capital and to deploy their resources in ways that maximize the return on their shareholders’ investments.” 494 U. S., at 658–659. Unlike voters in U. S. elections, corporations may be foreign controlled. 70 Unlike other interest groups, business corporations have been “effectively delegated responsibility for ensuring society’s economic welfare”; 71 they inescapably structure the life of every citizen. “ ‘[T]he resources in the treasury of a business corporation,’ ” furthermore, “ ‘are not an indication of popular support for the corporation’s political ideas.’ ” Id., at 659 (quoting MCFL , 479 U. S., at 258). “ ‘They reflect instead the economically motivated decisions of investors and customers. The availability of these resources may make a corporation a formidable political presence, even though the power of the corporation may be no reflection of the power of its ideas.’ ” 494 U. S., at 659 (quoting MCFL , 479 U. S., at 258). 72
It might also be added that corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.
These basic points help explain why corporate electioneering is not only more likely to impair compelling governmental interests, but also why restrictions on that electioneering are less likely to encroach upon First Amendment freedoms.”
“The distinctive threat to democratic integrity posed by corporate domination of politics was recognized at “the inception of the republic” and “has been a persistent theme in American political life” ever since. Regan 302. It is only certain Members of this Court, not the listeners themselves, who have agitated for more corporate electioneering.
Austin recognized that there are substantial reasons why a legislature might conclude that unregulated general treasury expenditures will give corporations “unfai[r] influence” in the electoral process, 494 U. S., at 660, and distort public debate in ways that undermine rather than advance the interests of listeners. The legal structure of corporations allows them to amass and deploy financial resources on a scale few natural persons can match. The structure of a business corporation, furthermore, draws a line between the corporation’s economic interests and the political preferences of the individuals associated with the corporation; the corporation must engage the electoral process with the aim “to enhance the profitability of the company, no matter how persuasive the arguments for a broader or conflicting set of priorities,” Brief for American Independent Business Alliance as Amicus Curiae 11; see also ALI, Principles of Corporate Governance: Analysis and Recommendations §2.01(a), p. 55 (1992) (“[A] corporation … should have as its objective the conduct of business activities with a view to enhancing corporate profit and shareholder gain”). In a state election such as the one at issue in Austin , the interests of nonresident corporations may be fundamentally adverse to the interests of local voters. Consequently, when corporations grab up the prime broadcasting slots on the eve of an election, they can flood the market with advocacy that bears “little or no correlation” to the ideas of natural persons or to any broader notion of the public good, 494 U. S., at 660. The opinions of real people may be marginalized. “The expenditure restrictions of [2 U. S. C.] §441b are thus meant to ensure that competition among actors in the political arena is truly competition among ideas.” MCFL , 479 U. S., at 259.
In addition to this immediate drowning out of noncorporate voices, there may be deleterious effects that follow soon thereafter. Corporate “domination” of electioneering, Austin , 494 U. S., at 659, can generate the impression that corporations dominate our democracy.”
“The Court’s blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process. Americans may be forgiven if they do not feel the Court has advanced the cause of self-government today.”
“U. S. Const., Art. I, §9, cl. 8 (“[N]o Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust … shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State”). ” [Note by AFA, and yet 501c6 trade associations with foreign members and allowed foreign directors may fund in unlimited and undisclosed manner, money for electioneering from their unsegregated member coffer].
54 See Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Tom Logan (Nov. 12, 1816), in 12 The Works of Thomas Jefferson 42, 44 (P. Ford ed. 1905) (“I hope we shall … crush in [its] birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country”).
55 In normal usage then, as now, the term “speech” referred to oral communications by individuals. See, e.g., 2 S. Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language 1853–1854 (4th ed. 1773) (reprinted 1978) (listing as primary definition of “speech”: “The power of articulate utterance; the power of expressing thoughts by vocal words”); 2 N. Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) (reprinted 1970) (listing as primary definition of “speech”: “The faculty of uttering articulate sounds or words, as in human beings; the faculty of expressing thoughts by words or articulate sounds. Speech was given to man by his Creator for the noblest purposes”). Indeed, it has been “claimed that the notion of institutional speech … did not exist in post-revolutionary America.” Fagundes, State Actors as First Amendment Speakers, 100 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1637, 1654 (2006); see also Bezanson, Institutional Speech, 80 Iowa L. Rev. 735, 775 (1995) (“In the intellectual heritage of the eighteenth century, the idea that free speech was individual and personal was deeply rooted and clearly manifest in the writings of Locke, Milton, and others on whom the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights drew”). Given that corporations were conceived of as artificial entities and do not have the technical capacity to “speak,” the burden of establishing that the Framers and ratifiers understood “the freedom of speech” to encompass corporate speech is, I believe, far heavier than the majority acknowledges.
56 Postratification practice bolsters the conclusion that the First Amendment , “as originally understood,” ante, at 37, did not give corporations political speech rights on a par with the rights of individuals. Well into the modern era of general incorporation statutes, “[t]he common law was generally interpreted as prohibiting corporate political participation,” First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U. S. 765, 819 (1978) (White, J., dissenting), and this Court did not recognize any First Amendment protections for corporations until the middle part of the 20th century, see ante, at 25–26 (listing cases).