Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category
The DFL must see the Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment, as utterly annoying. What other reason would the DFL have for pushing that’s already been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court? This language from HF1944 looks familiar:
Subdivision 1. Electioneering communication. (a) “Electioneering communication” means a communication distributed by television, radio, satellite, or cable broadcasting system; by means of printed material, signs, or billboards; or through the use of telephone communications that:
(1) refers to a clearly identified candidate;
(2) is made within:
(i) 30 days before a primary election or special primary election for the office sought by the candidate; or (ii) 60 days before a general election or special election for the office sought by the candidate; (3) is targeted to the relevant electorate; and (4) is made without the express or implied consent, authorization, or cooperation of, and not in concert with or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate or a candidate’s principal campaign committee or agent.
(b) If an electioneering communication clearly directs recipients to another communication, including a Web site, on-demand or streaming video, or similar communications, the electioneering communication consists of both the original electioneering communication and the communication to which recipients are directed and the cost of both must be included when determining if disclosure is required under this section.
McCain-Feingold, aka the BCRA, prohibited certain types of speech 30 days before a primary election and/or 60 days before the general election. Here’s the relevant part of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling:
The statute is underinclusive; it only protects a dissenting shareholder’s interests in certain media for 30 or 60 days before an election when such interests would be implicated in any media at any time.
Here’s another important part of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. the FEC:
Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials ac-countable to the people—political speech must prevail against lawsthat would suppress it by design or inadvertence. Laws burdening such speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.”
Despite that clear ruling, the DFL insists on pushing a bill that includes provisions that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled unconstitutional. It isn’t just that they’ve ruled these provisions unconstitutional, either. It’s that they said future legislation had to pass strict scrutiny, which is described like this:
subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.”
The DFL knows that this is an extra-high hurdle that they likely can’t overcome. What’s disturbing is that the DFL isn’t hesitating in writing legislation that violates people’s rights to participate in the political process.
This is the definition of shameful, too:
Question: Why do Democrats hate certain types of political speech?
Technorati: SCOTUS, Citizens United, First Amendment, Constitution, Political Speech, Censorship, Al Franken, Katie Sieben, Jim Carlson, John Marty, Kent Eken, Steve Simon, Laurie Halverson, Ryan Winkler, Connie Bernardy, John Persell, Democrats, DFL, Elections, Election 2014
Ron Fournier’s article about Wednesday’s IRS hearing is sloppily written. It doesn’t show he’s interested in accuracy:
Conservatives are applauding Issa for shutting down a Democrat. Without evidence, the Right has convicted Lerner, the IRS, the White House, and President Obama of abuse of power.
Conservatives like me applaud Chairman Issa for shutting off Rep. Cummings’ microphone in the middle of a political stunt aimed at deflecting attention from the latest Lerner emails:
I might be crazy but I’ll bet most judges would admit that as evidence. That’s Mr. Fournier’s accusation of convicting Lerner without proof just disappeared. That’s before talking about how Ms. Lerner said something that sounded like a motive for targeting TEA Party organizations.
BTW, that dismisses the Democrats’ protestations that progressive c(4)’s were targeted with equal vigor. Prior to the Citizens United ruling, progressive organizations had applied for and been granted c(4) status. They’d been operating under that part of the Internal Revenue Code for decades. The biggest influx of c(4) applications came from TEA Party organizations and organizations like True the Vote.
That’s before talking about the fact that no progressive organizations have filed a lawsuit demanding that the IRS hadn’t approved or rejected their application for c(4) status. If Lerner and the IRS had applied the same policies equally to both parties, shouldn’t these progressive organizations be complaining about inaction on their applications, too?
The dog that isn’t barking often speaks loudest.
The kid that cries wolf the loudest often isn’t credible. In this instance, Mr. Fournier is crying wolf. Clearly, he isn’t paying attention to the proof that Chairman Issa asked Ms. Lerner about. While Ms. Lerner took the Fifth, Chairman Issa read into the record emails showing Ms. Lerner expressing her worries that she didn’t want Cincinnati working on the TEA Party organizations’ c(4) applications. Additionally, she didn’t want it to look too political while DC fiddled with the TEA Party organizations’ c(4) applications.
That’s what I’d call getting trapped in God’s little acre — east of the rock, west of the hard place. At this point, I’d certainly take the Fifth if I were in Ms. Lerner’s predicament. Thankfully, I’m not foolish enough to put myself in such a difficult position.
It isn’t surprising that the UAW would run to the NLRB for a shoulder to cry on after suffering a humiliating defeat in its attempt to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee. It isn’t even surprising that the UAW is attempting to silence opposition to the unionization movement:
On Feb. 14, the workers made their voices heard, with 53% voting against allowing the UAW to represent them. I believe that the workers understood that they were nothing more than dollar signs for the UAW. Obviously, I could not have been happier for the Volkswagen employees, for the community and for Tennessee.
Unfortunately, the UAW has chosen to ignore the employees’ decision and has filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board, charging that elected officials like me should not be allowed to make public comments expressing our opinion and sharing information with our constituents. It is telling that the UAW complaint does not mention President Obama’s public statement urging the employees to vote for the union.
Ordinarily, the NLRB’s rulings aren’t reviewed by the courts. If the NLRB rules that it was improper for public officials to speak about the UAW’s unionization drive, their ruling will get taken to court, where they’ll lose badly.
If the NLRB issues such a ruling, they’ll be exposed as Big Labor’s corrupt shills. They’ll lose credibility in the eyes of the average citizen.
Most importantly, the UAW will be exposed as sore losers who had run of the VW plant for 2 years and who didn’t face management opposition for that time but still couldn’t win the organizing election. That’s pretty pathetic.
How unpopular is the IRS’s proposed rule that would limit 501(c)(4)’s? I think that looking at a sampling of the organizations opposed to the rule would indicate the rule’s foolishness. Let’s start with this criticism from the League of Women Voters:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proposed very significant changes in the regulations that govern what kind of political activity and how much of that activity a Section 501(c)(4) organization can carry out. This step is our best chance to rein in the secret “dark money” that has been polluting our elections since the Supreme Court’s terrible decision in Citizens United. At the same time, the current proposal would undermine the League’s ability to conduct truly nonpartisan voter service activities across the country.
The LWV truly thinks it’s nonpartisan even though their agenda definitely fits into the Democrats’ agenda. That’s why it doesn’t hide its feelings by saying that they don’t have a problem reining in “the secret ‘dark money’” that’s allegedly polluting elections since the Citizens United v. FEC ruling. Leftists like LWV aren’t the only organizations that despise the IRS’s proposed rule. Americans for Tax Reform, aka ATR, opposes the proposed rule, too:
According to the IRS’s own website, groups “qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(4), [if] the organization’s net earnings [are] devoted primarily to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.” This allows a myriad of citizen groups to educate their communities about issues which would affect them. Because of these activities, citizens can research laws and disseminate the information for free to those who might be impacted by the policies.
But with the proposed changes, organizations would lose their tax exempt status if they continued to spend sizable parts of their budget on the most basic civic activities. Among these activities are:
•Voter registration drives and “get-out-the-vote” drives.
•Distribution of any material prepared by, or on behalf of, a candidate or, by a section 527 political organization (PAC).
•Preparation or distribution of voter guides that refer to candidates (or, in a general election, to political parties).
•Holding any event within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) at which any candidate appears as part of the program.
Under these criteria, any effort to educate the public about candidates, or the laws being passed by legislatures would be construed as “political activity” and will be used to suppress the free speech of social welfare groups. Candidate debates, although they are useful to the general public, would be shut down in a Machiavellian attempt to prevent ideologically inconvenient groups from threatening the government’s agenda.
This is McCain-Feingold in regulatory form. The BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United v. the FEC ruling. The Supreme Court ruled BCRA unconstitutional because it limited citizens’ rights to participate in the electoral process, which the First Amendment prohibits.
Both ATR and the LWV recognize the fact that the IRS’s rule would eliminate citizens groups from participating in the political process. That’s why they’re both opposing the IRS’s proposed rule.
What’s stunning is the volume of opposition to the IRS’s proposed rule. According to the IRS’s website, 122,135 comments had been left on the proposed rule. By comparison, there were 7,000 comments left for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
This article should frighten Constitution-loving Americans across the political spectrum. Here’s why:
Schumer during remarks to the Center for American Progress argued that Tea Party groups have an unfair financial advantage over left-leaning groups because of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, at one point even suggesting that President Barack Obama go around Congress to impose stricter campaign finance laws.
“It is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately,” Schumer said.
“One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created [by] the ill advised decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission],” he added. “Obviously the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.”
First, it’s worth noting that Sen. Schumer’s speech is intellectually dishonest. Next, it calls into question whether he or the other signatories to his letter cherish the Constitution or whether they’re willing to sacrifice the Constitution for political expediency.
These questions are aimed specifically at Sen. Schumer and Sen. Franken:
- Do all political organizations have the right of free speech or do only some political organizations have First Amendment protections?
- If only some political organizations have First Amendment protection, who determines which political organizations have First Amendment protections and which political organizations don’t?
- Why do you think that the IRS is the right enforcer of who’s protected by the First Amendment?
- What part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights can you cite that prohibits political speech for some organizations but protects poltiical speech for other organizations?
- Shouldn’t the Supreme Court be the final arbiter of what’s constitutional and what isn’t constitutional?
- Finally, why haven’t you demanded that the IRS be investigated for targeting citizens because of their political beliefs?
The reality is that Sen. Franken and Sen. Schumer don’t think in terms of what’s protected by the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. They think in terms of what will help them politically. With them, it’s never been about constitutionality. It’s always been about what’ll help them politically.
Technorati: Al Franken, Chuck Schumer, Bill of Rights, Constitution, First Amendment, Citizens United, IRS, Democrats, Election 2014
A loyal reader of LFR has sent me some hilarious fundraising emails from the Franken campaign. Here’s Sen. Franken’s latest fundraising appeal:
Can you hear that ominous buzzing sound? That’s Washington Republicans, planning their next attempt to hold our economic recovery hostage by playing political games with the debt ceiling.
In case you don’t remember the last manufactured crisis, Republicans threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless we agreed to their demands, meaning we could have defaulted on our national debt for the first time ever — causing a terrible economic crisis.
It was irresponsible. It was reckless. And now many seem willing to do it again.
Don’t let them. Click here to help me tell Republicans in Washington not to play games with the debt ceiling and threaten our economic recovery.
We don’t know what demands Republicans will come up with this time. And we only have one demand of our own: Do your job.
After all, Minnesotans are doing their part to bring our economy back from the recession. They’re working hard every day, opening small businesses, doing the things the middle class has always done to make our country stronger.
Now Washington has a job to do: make sure the full faith and credit of the United States remains strong. And refusing to do that job — playing political games with the debt ceiling — is downright dangerous.
We need to send a clear message to Washington Republicans: Don’t play games with the debt ceiling. Click here to sign my open letter.
Right now, Republicans in Washington are debating exactly which demands they want to make before they agree to do their job. And the buzz about another manufactured crisis is getting louder. That’s bad news for our economy.
So let’s drown out that buzz with a clear message of our own: Don’t play games. Do your job.
Click here to add your name!
Thanks for your help,
P.S.: Defaulting on our debt may sound like a boring bookkeeping term, but it would be an enormous economic disaster, one that economists say would cost us jobs and could put us into another recession. Don’t let Washington Republicans play games with this — it’s too important. Click here to sign my open letter!
This afternoon, the House passed a clean debt ceiling bill. Only 28 Republicans voted for it, including soon-to-be-former Speaker Boehner. It’s worth paying attention to the fact that Sen. Franken insists that the floundering economy is coming back.
That’s stunning because President Obama delayed the employer mandate a second time because he’s seen that it’s a job-killer that will cost lots of Democrats their jobs in the Senate next year.
Here’s another paranoid ranting from the Franken campaign:
In his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove called me out personally and pointed to Minnesota as a possible pickup for Republicans this fall.
Karl Rove’s the puppet master of a few of those Citizens United-spawned special interest groups. In the 2012 elections, his Crossroads groups spent more than $176 million — mostly attacking candidates.
So you might understand why this shout out isn’t really a good thing in an election year.
If Karl Rove has Minnesota on his radar, we don’t have time to waste. We’ve got to be geared up and ready to fight back. This month, we need to hit $200,000 to fuel our grassroots efforts. Can you contribute $5?
It’s not like Karl Rove would be praising me for my work for Minnesota — protecting net neutrality, reversing the effects of Citizens United, fighting for Minnesota families.
I don’t work for the Karl Rove, special interest agenda. They’d rather see someone in this seat that’s more friendly to them. So they will attack and smear, lie and spend, to get one of their friends to replace me.
And that’s why I have you — my fantastic grassroots supporters — fighting back to make sure that strategy doesn’t work.
Help us hit our $200,000 goal this month. Be one of the first to give $5 now.
Thank you for your support.
P.S.: We need to show Karl Rove and all of the special interests that if you target Minnesota, you have to face us. Give $5 or more right now toward our $200,000 February goal.
This part was especially hilarious:
It’s not like Karl Rove would be praising me for my work for Minnesota, protecting net neutrality, reversing the effects of Citizens United, fighting for Minnesota families.
How many Minnesotans will head into the voting booth next November and exclaim ‘I’m voting for Al Franken because he protected net neutrality’? How many people will say ‘I’m voting for Franken because he’s for reversing the effects of Citizens United’?
Here’s another line worth laughing at:
I don’t work for the Karl Rove special interest agenda. They’d rather see someone in this seat that’s more friendly to them. So they will attack and smear, lie and spend, to get one of their friends to replace me.
I can’t deny that Franken doesn’t work for Karl Rove. I can’t deny that Franken works for the DFL’s anti-jobs special interests either. Notice how Franken hasn’t said a word about the Keystone XL Pipeline project. He hasn’t said a thing about the proposed PolyMet precious metals mining project in northeastern Minnesota either.
That’s because Sen. Franken is doing everything possible to say he’s a friend of union rank-and-file (he isn’t) without alienating the hardline environmentalists. He’s trying to maintain his support amongst these groups that hate each other. If Sen. Franken truly cared about the union rank-and-file, he’d fight to make PolyMet a reality. He isn’t doing that.
People know that I’m Karl Rove’s biggest fan. However, if given the choice between trusting Rove or Franken, that isn’t a difficult choice. Franken hasn’t done a thing to strengthen Minnesota’s economy. Franken’s focus has been on silencing President Obama’s opposition by having the IRS target conservative organizations that applied for tax exempt status. That’s what he meant when he said he’d worked on reversing the effects of Citizens United:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of seven Senate Democrats urged the Internal Revenue Service on Monday to impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt, nonprofit groups.
The senators said the lack of clarity in the IRS rules has allowed political groups to improperly claim 501(c)4 status and may even be allowing donors to these groups to wrongly claim tax deductions for their contributions. The senators promised legislation if the IRS failed to act to fix these problems.
“We urge the IRS to take these steps immediately to prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities. But if the IRS is unable to issue administrative guidance in this area then we plan to introduce legislation to accomplish these important changes,” the senators wrote.
The letter was signed by Senators Charles E. Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken. It follows an earlier letter, sent to the IRS by the same of group of senators last month, that also urged the IRS to better enforce rules pertaining to 501(c)4 organizations.
Sen. Franken teamed with Chuck Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall and Jeanne Shaheen in encouraging the IRS to intimidate the Democrats’ opponents.
There’s little question that the IRS targeted TEA Party activists and other conservative organizations. There’s no question that these senators intended conservative organization to be singled out for additional scrutiny.
Sen. Schumer is one of the nastiest partisans to ever serve in DC. He certainly isn’t calling for the targeting of hardline progressive organizations. That means Sen. Franken willfully signed onto silencing political speech he didn’t like.
Rather than supporting Sen. Franken, thoughtful Democrats who still believe in the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights should help boot him from office. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is more important than electing a partisan for the long-term health of this great nation.
Hans Spakovsky’s post on the Heritage Foundation’s blog is a fantastic one-stop-shopping-center for what the IRS’s proposed rules mean:
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee questioned IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The Committee released an email it had obtained from inside the Treasury Department showing that back in 2012 when it appears that the IRS was in the middle of trying to prevent conservative organizations from being granted tax exempt status, the administration was already planning to draft new regulations restricting the political activity of the same organizations. The email was sent by Ruth Madrigal of the Office of Tax Policy at Treasury to Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to answer questions from Congress about the scandal by asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
That June 14, 2012, email indicated that Madrigal and Lerner would be devising the new rules “off-plan,” which is federal government-speak meaning that their plan would not be published on the public schedule of the IRS. What is significant about this email is that it flatly contradicts prior assertions by the Obama administration that the proposed new regulations defining “candidate-related political activity” were planned only after the IRS scandal was made public in order to “clarify” the regulations. Instead, it appears the administration not only tried to delay and prevent conservative organizations from receiving their tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 election, but was also already planning new regulations that would stifle their political speech and potential criticism of the administration.
In short, the Obama administration intended to silence its critics while violating Americans’ constitutional rights. The Obama administration didn’t hesitate in crushing TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.
If we had an attorney general that was interested in justice, Lois Lerner would’ve been prosecuted and convicted already. That’s because she lied to Congress about the IRS scandal was restricted to a couple rogue IRS agents in their Cincinnati office. That’s before finding out that she knew about the proposed new rules that would intentionally trample TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.
What’s most important is that Chuck Schumer and Al Franken think it’s a good idea for the IRS to redouble their efforts of improperly investigating and harassing these TEA Party organizations.
This is just the continuation of the Democrats’ assault against the Citizens United ruling. That’s the ruling which said that it’s better to have more political speech. Democrats disagree, insisting that less political speech, especially that which happens close to an election or primary, is desirable.
When the Citizens United ruling took away the FEC’s ability to limit speech in 2010, the administration switched to Plan B. That meant the IRS would replace the FEC as the federal government’s agency in charge of limiting political speech. John Hinderaker’s post highlights what the Obama administration thinks of political speech. Here’s part of a speech Lois Lerner gave on the subject:
What happened last year was the Supreme Court–the law kept getting chipped away, chipped away, in the federal election arena. The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year-old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns. And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it.
They want the IRS to fix the problem. The IRS laws are not set up to fix the problem: (c)(4)s can do straight political activity. They can go out and pay for an ad that says “Vote for Joe Blow.” That’s something they can do as long as their primary activity is their (c)(4) activity, which is social welfare.
Q: When did political speech become a problem to be fixed? A: When this administration took over. It’s been their habit to eliminate political speech that doesn’t sing from their hymnal.
The telling line in Ms. Lerner’s speech is “The IRS Laws aren’t set up to fix the problem: c4s can do straight political activity.” Corporations still can’t contribute to candidates’ campaigns. That shouldn’t mean they can’t spend money campaigning on issues important to them. If unions have the right to campaign on issues important to them, then corporations have the right to do the same.
This article does an excellent job explaining the IRS’s proposed new rules:
But under the proposed rules, which would remove a 501(c)(4)’s tax exemption if it engages in virtually any political activity, if they choose to do so collectively, rather than individually, the organization will be subject to income tax on the amount it collects. If an individual spends $1,000 on posters, he will get $1,000 worth; but if he donates $1,000 to the organization, it will have to pay $350 to the IRS and will be left with only $650 to purchase posters.
That’s the Obama administration’s ‘fix’ to the free speech ‘problem’.
Technorati: Lois Lerner, President Obama, Censorship, First Amendment, Citizens United, IRS, FEC, Unions, Corporations, Poltical Campaigns, Democrats, Elections
Thursday, Cleta Mitchell testified that the IRS scandal is real and that the investigation is a sham:
I wholeheartedly agree. During her testimony, Ms. Mitchell delivered this devastating information:
When Lois Lerner and President Obama accused line agents in Cincinnati of being responsible, ladies and gentlemen, that is a lie and I knew when Lois Lerner said that in May of 2010, when she admitted it was happening, after we knew it was happening — we knew we were being targeted — it’s just that she admitted it. But I knew it hadn’t happened in Cincinnati because the first time I became aware of this, another group I represent filed for tax exempt status in 2009. And besides cashing our check for our filing fee, we did not hear from the IRS again until June of 2010. And we didn’t hear from Cincinnati. We heard from Washington.
Ms. Mitchell was a one-woman Cat-4 hurricane yesterday. Unfortunately for Democrats, she wasn’t done with that refutation of the Democrats’ chanting points:
This group did one thing, one thing only. For all of the fall of 2009 until the spring of 2010, it lobbied against Obamacare, something that it is allowed to do 100% of the time. We did not get the tax exempt status for that organization until July of 2013.
Ms. Mitchell’s law firm is one of the top law firms in the nation. They didn’t get that reputation by being sloppy. Their record-keeping is meticulous. For the Democrats to insist that this is a sideshow and that the scandal is phony is belied by these documents. It’s real. It’s chilling political speech. That’s the Chicago Machine’s way.
The IRS is picking up where the FEC was told it couldn’t go in Citizens United v. the FEC. The IRS is using the FEC’s definitions in its rulemaking to stifle political speech.
Watch the entire video. It’s riveting TV. In fact, I’d recommend watching Catherine Engelbrecht’s opening statement, too:
I’m thankful that citizens like Cleta Mitchell and Catherine Engelbrecht have stepped forward rather than being silenced. They’re the personification of American patriots.
Technorati: Cleta Mitchell, Catherine Engelbrecht, IRS Investigation, OSHA, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Elections Commission, Weaponized Government, Citizens United, TEA Party, Censorship, Obama Administration, Democrats, Elections
David Shuster’s monthly op-ed seldom disappoints in terms of questionable thinking from a leftist perspective. This month’s op-ed is titled “Now corporations could have religious rights, too?” Here’s part of Mr. Shuster’s column:
In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court gave corporations the individual right of free speech.
Energized by this success and the boundless loathing of the conservative movement for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, for-profit companies are manipulating the judicial system for the right to practice a religion.
Like the Wizard bestowing a heart to the Tin Man, the court’s decision to hear two cases — Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius — may magically grant corporate America a religious conscience. Unlike the “Wizard of Oz,” this would not have a happy ending.
Independent voters, think about this before voting. In Mr. Shuster’s mind, the Supreme Court “gave” corporations the same right to influence elections as individuals have. It didn’t take long to find out that they didn’t give corporations anything. They clarified the fact that corporations had that right all along. Here’s the text of the First Amendment:
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.
There’s nothing in the First Amendment’s text that says it pertains exclusively to individuals. In fact, there is a reference in the text that protects an institution. Specifically, it says “the press” has the same rights as an individual.
That’s why it’s disheartening to hear Shuster talk about “magically grant[ing] corporate America” religious rights. In the eyes of the Constitution, there isn’t a difference between churches and the Little Sisters of the Poor and corporations run by people of faith. That’s because, like churches, corporations aren’t inanimate buildings. They’re groups of people.
I’ve used this argument repeatedly but it’s still pertinent. Does the Fourth Amendment protect only individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures or does it protect corporations, too? Thoughtful people wouldn’t dispute that corporations have the right to due process. Why should speech and religion pertain only to individuals?
Shuster makes the argument that incorporation creates a wall between a person’s assets and a corporation’s assets. I won’t dispute that. Material things, however, aren’t the same as God-given rights.
It isn’t exactly rare to see leftists misunderstand what the Constitution permits or limits. Still, this LTE shows the Left’s lack of understanding of the Constitution:
The Supreme Court decision called “Citizens United” is a gross misnomer. The court ruled corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to voting rights.
This decision allows corporations to spend millions of dollars to influence elections. This makes it virtually legal to buy elections.
The editorialist is right in that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. the FEC decision said that corporations have the same right of free speech as citizens. That’s because corporations aren’t buildings. They’re a collection of citizens. As such, they have just as much right to expressing their political opinions as your next door neighbor.
The editorialist is wrong, however, in saying that corporations “have the same rights” as it pertains to “voting rights.” Corporations can’t vote. They can buy ad time to talk about the things that matter most to them. That isn’t the same as casting a vote.
Is this leftist going to argue that corporations aren’t protected by the Fourth Amendment just like a private citizen is protected by it? Where in the text of the First Amendment or the Fourth Amendment does it say that only individuals are protected by these constitutional amendments? Here’s the text of the First Amendment:
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.
Here’s the text of the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Fourth Amendment at least mentions “people” being “secure in their persons.” The First Amendment doesn’t mention any limits to “people.” The fact that the text of the Fourth Amendment mentions “people” being “secure in their persons” hasn’t prevented the courts from rightly ruling that corporations and small businesses and nonprofits are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Apparently, this LTE writer doesn’t grasp the concept that the Bill of Rights applies to everyone, not just individual citizens.