Sunday, January 24, 2010

Freedom of Speech

I've been looking at the recent Supreme Court case with interest for the shear reason that I've seen that there is much opposition to this ruling recently. This case (Citizen's United v. Federal Election) seems to be offending many, mostly on the left who believe that this gives corporations too much power. What I do not see much of is the alternate view which is upheld by the majority of the Supreme Court, that in the other way there was too much power held by the government which the Constitution is instilled to protect us from.
Premised on mistrust of governmental power, the First Amendment stands against attempts to disfavor certain subjects or viewpoints or to distinguish among different speakers, which may be a means to control content....

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for engaging in political speech, but Austin’s antidistortion rationale would permit the Government to ban political speech because the speaker is an association with a corporate form. Political speech is “indispensable to decision making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speechcomes from a corporation.”

This is directly from the case which you can find in PDF on the Supreme Court website. What is lost in most news is the fact that the Supreme Court is here to uphold the Constitution when times come where the other forms of government fail to do so. Fear of a certain entity such as a corporation does not make it right to silence, there is too much power in that which our country's government is not intended to have. The framers of our constitution did not intend for the government to limit any speech and that has been a great protection that has maintained the integrity of our country and challenges many others.

There were two dissenting opinions, one was surprisingly Thomas (which I can't completely disagree with his, though I think I would still go with majority) and then there was the other which included Ginsburg, Stevens, Breyer and Sotomayor. The later dissenting opinion seems to be the one which is more popular and the group that finds this very dangerous. Though I find their tactics rather manipulative. From going over it and a couple of other articles it seems that there is a problem with identifying a corporation as a individual and one which must maintain rights. The fact is that you cannot disconnect the human element of a corporation. They are the actions of a group of people or the actions of one through a separate entity. But it is ridiculous to say that they are not the actions of a person or a citizen. They are a makeup of people, no other way to run a corporation. In this case the corporation is a vehicle in which a citizen can use for speech, which is what they are used for in most cases. The corporation cannot take a political opinion on its own, that makes no sense. They typically follow the political opinion of the executives or the board or whatever the makeup of the corporation is made of. The other argument I saw in relation to the first is that there is no guarantee that a corporation will be made entirely of US citizens, now this is true. But what does seem wrong to me is to say we will limit the speech of of US citizens through this avenue because of the possibility there will be some foreign influence. There is still the limitation of freedom of speech included.

The freedom of speech is a sticky subject because not all is liked, but you have to remember that it has been shown to be a slippery slope. This is shown in other countries in the form of "hate speech" laws. The most I have heard of are the laws specific to Canada. The problem with this is that it is not what you would want to be considered good or bad speech, it is what the government considers good or bad speech. With the changes in a democracy what keeps the government from making it illegal for opposition to speak for the sole reason to maintain power. This does no good for anyone. And yes it can get to that point. Many who believe homosexuality is a sin and should not be condoned, and there are others that believe that is hate speech. Then you are saying that the speech of those of certain dominant religious groups is illegal? It is the opinion of those who are in charge in the end, which is what we are trying to keep from happening. One group could use this law very easily to silence another because they simply, "don't like it." In honesty, that is the most I hear from every day people when it comes to this case. They don't trust corporations and their opinions because they believe them to be conservative. To me, there are many liberal and conservative corporations both that will use this to their advantage.

In the end I believe that the Supreme Court decision should be respected. I know McCain was hurt by this because it nullifies laws he had a major part in putting into place. But in the end, Obama out spent him and I believe that his gentlemanly attitudes toward the political process is what cost him the election partially. Obama had an entire channel! How were we really protected or had an equal share of the views of both side? It is not something that works, and I believe that it is up to everyday citizens to decide in the end. If they are too stupid to look past commercials to research what is right and wrong and who to vote for, then that speaks more for the intelligence and education of the American people; not for if certain groups should be allowed to reach to them or not through speech.

No comments: