Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Well Deserved Rebuke

The Supreme Court of the United States has received a rare rebuke from the President of the United States and in my opinion the five Justices voting in the majority in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission deserve it.

I find it hard to understand, by any stretch of the imagination, by any application of logic, or by any legal argument, how a corporation can be guaranteed the same right to freedom of speech as a living, breathing American citizen. A corporation is a legal entity created out of thin air. A corporation’s very existence, not to mention its rights, is defined by the legislation creating it and the laws governing it. The public creates and recognizes corporations as legal entities. Sometimes corporations are recognized as “persons” but not as a living, breathing human beings. The mistake the Supreme Court made in this case was to confuse legal terminology and concepts with actual things, a “legal” person to a living person. The public by law create corporations but only the union of a sperm and an egg can create a human being. Just as the public created corporations the public can just as easily limit their powers, including their rights.

A human being exists for a finite time, from its birth to its death. A corporation is not born in the biological sense but created in the legal sense. Unless it dissolves, its “life” is potentially everlasting. There are corporations in America that have been in existence much longer than the longest human lifespan, and their potentially everlasting life spans allows corporations to accumulate great wealth and exercise great economic and political power. Corporations are not bound by time or even space as human beings are. While a corporation maintains a physical address it may actually operate, unlike a human being, in several locations, thus extending its political power.

By the Supreme Court’s logic, a corporation also ought to have the right to vote, to bear arms, and every other right enacted in the Constitution. Forget about Exxon or Halliburton contributing to candidates for President and buying a Commander-in-Chief to their liking. According to the logic of the Supreme Court, a corporation can simply run for and be elected President as long as it has been in existence long enough.

No comments: