Fuck the First Amendment, then

So, should we burn you with copies of the Constitution, or burn the Constitution with your dried bones?

Constitutions are not perfect and eternal. They can be changed. We can do any of three things:

  1. reinterpret the First Amendment to restrict campaign spending and reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, as a way of restricting influence peddling–just like previous generations of Americans;
  2. amend the Constitution to remove perfect freedom of the press (and it is freedom of the press that is at issue here, not the Newspeak construction of “speech”);
  3. set fire to the whole Constitution, baby with the bathwater, and start over;

otherwise we’re straight into legal fraud and bribery. Any absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment is nothing less than the legalization of fraud and bribery. Go to Hell.

  1. Developing a 2nd amendment solution to the 1st amendment problem.

This is simply another cry for, “I don’t care what the text says, do it my way!” (Option 1)

Options 2 and 3 are absolutely honest and consistent with our notions of self-government.

As is opposition to options 2 and 3. Which I have. So, good luck to you as you go about trying options 2 and 3, and I will try to oppose you.

Betcha I win.

You actually find option 3 more respectable than option 1? So do you consider all those years with the Fairness Doctrine a horrible mistake, or just McCain-Feingold?

Funny, how it’s the First Amendment that protects your right to advocate amending or abolishing it.

At a guess he finds option 1 to be a slippery slope, and more than a bit distasteful. I feel pretty much the same way, since the same tactics were used for years to circumvent the 2nd. YMMV of course…while it’s your side who is doing the reinterpretation. I’m guessing that you’d feel a bit differently if the worm turned and it was the other side deciding to circumvent things that they found inconvenient by reinterpreting the Constitution and Amendments to suit their political viewpoint (I can think of a lot of things a real, fundamentalist Christian type would love to ‘reinterpret’ in the Constitution and the various Amendments to suit them that you and most other 'dopers would find highly distasteful).

The thing is, we have a process by which the Constitution can be changed, and Amendments added, modified or even struck down.


What do you think the “fairness doctrine” is?

“More respectable?” Yes. Because both involve legislative change by the actual holders of the power to legislate: the people, directly or through their elected legislators.

I don’t consider the Fairness Doctrine a mistake. When you had a very limited playing field – broadcast TV – the problem of having no available equivalent outlet was a real one.

Contrast Red Lion v. FCC with Miami Herald v. Tornillo. Newspapers don’t take up space that no one else can occupy. Any competitor can publish a newspaper. Red Lion simply said the Government, which grants the licensee the right to use that chunk of airwaves, can require him to share.

But that concern is largely vanished today. Digital TV and cable have made as many channels available as we wish. The Internet dwarfs those options with virtually unlimited ability to deliver content.

I don’t think those years were wasted. But technology changed the playing field, and the FCC responded correctly. The Court always premised its support for the Fairness Doctrine on the paucity of broadcast bandwidth - a concern of the past, not the present.

Not sure who this was addressed to, but here’s the gist:


This is the same fallacy as that of the Christian who thinks only Christians value honesty and doesn’t understand why atheists hate Christians as liars.

There is a world of difference between not criminalizing political speech and giving special interests with a large publishing budget the ability to commit fraud, buy influence with politicians and judges, and deliberately mislead the public. Do you not see that your absolutism would if consistent strike down all laws against slander, libel, and fraud? Why are those OK in “politics”? Why is it OK to con the public?

And let me just say that I never gave a flying fuck about the Citizens United video that the case was tried over. If anything, I thought that should have been legal.

I care about the ability of special interests to propagandize ruthlessly, drown out their opponents, and then say, “Oh, it’s just speech!”

I’d argue this point “The First Amendment’s “text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker.” Here it is:There is no “except for corporations” clause there. Personal liberties, particularly those explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, don’t evaporate because people–even if it’s lots of people–don’t like them. There is no constitutional basis for overturning this.”

A constitutional basis for disagreeing with the Citizens United decision? How about original intent? Because I want to see somebody claim that Madison intended the Bill of Rights to apply to corporations.

Option 3 is perfectly respectable. We did it once when we replaced the Articles of Confederation with the US Constitution. Now, you don’t actually have to burn it - that would seem silly - best to keep it in a museum.

Cooperations did not exist in the way they do today, they were usually chartered or statutory entities set up or promoted by governments.

I disagree with Citizens United, but it is the now the law until the USSC sees the error of their ways, if ever. I think Mitt Romney put the CU decision in the most understandable light: “Corporations are people, my friend”. I don’t agree. People don’t have articles of incorporation, by-laws, stock shares, etc. Corporations do not have lives of their own.

Corporations are in my opinion entitled to due process under the law, but they do not necessarily have the same rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and property. If so, people should be demanding to be taxed and have the same deductions as corporations.

Corporations are a creation of laws passed by legislatures. They do not have the right to pass property intestate, or by will. They cannot serve time for crimes, nor does it appear that they are, except in the rare exception, prosecuted criminally for crimes. It seems to me that any or all Legislatures could decide that corporations are a bad idea and phase them out along with their protections. Or refuse to let certain people (such as felons or foreigners) form corporations.

Corporations give privileges beyond that of a private citizen. The main privileges being limited liability and capital accumulation and special tax rates and tax deductions for their business purpose. To say that these privileges can never be changed is to deny equal protection and due process to individuals who do not form corporations. If corporations are people before the law on a direct equivalency before the law, then people are corporations before the law. Does that mean that people must register and file papers with the secretary of state? Have board meetings?

The CU decision was naive and silly, and an opinion in search of a case. The idea that corporations are people is generally agreed to have its genesis in a footnote in a USSC opinion, not the text of the constitution.

In a regression analysis, if only Legislatures can authorize the formation and operation and invention of corporations, could they do so for the limited extent to only allow them to raise capital and build and operate sailing ships (or some other business or charitable venture), and not allow a second purpose, such as forming a university, or bookkeeping firm? Yes. But you couldn’t do that to a person. A person could not be prohibited, for example, from being a lawyer, dentist and professional gadfly. Simply put, corporations are not people, my friends. CU stands for the legal proposition that corporations may not be prevented legally from doing anything that a human being has a constitutional right to do. That stands hundreds of years of jurisprudence on its head. It doesn’t mean five justices with an opinion in search of a case cannot write an opinion saying those rights exist, but it doesn’t make it good jurisprudence.

The way things stand at present, a few million dollars have infinitely more free speech than I do.

If I go to a political demonstration and try to use a bull horn to be heard, I’ll be arrested.

If I go to a demonstration and carry a sign close enough for a candidate or other person to see it, I’ll be arrested.

If I shout out in protest at a speech, I’ll be arrested.

But if I have millions to spend on ads and robocalls, I cannot be ignored.

I’m not here to argue for or against the OP. I just wanted to obser ve that this:

is the most bizarre mixed metaphor I’ve encountered in some time.

I suppose there’s a way to fix that: take the idea to its extreme logical conclusion. If corporations are people, treat them like people. When there’s a merger or takeover, and one corporation thus “dies”, charge an estate tax on the wealth it passes to its “heirs”. Any corporation attempting to merge with more than one company during its lifetime will be charged with bigamy.

Charge violations of the Clean Air Act as arson; if the offense is serious enough, the corporation could be executed. When corporations are found guilty of violating the law, they should be treated like other people on probation or parole, who are routinely forbidden from associating with other persons with criminal histories. We’ll end up with loads of corporations forbidden to do business with one another.

Perhaps they should even be required to register for the draft…

Oh, one more thing: if corporations are people, where do they get the ID required to actually vote? Instead of just throwing money at elections, that is…

Concur. Corporations are right now better than people; they have the rights of citizens when it’s convenient and benefits them, such as the First Amendment, but suffer few of the consequences or burdens of citizens.

The thing that should be blindingly obviously clear is that corporations are not persons. They can’t be persons in every way possible. They are only virtual persons. We allow the simulation because in some instances it allows the law to work better than otherwise. However, jumping straight from there to ‘Corporations are people and you are un-American if you want to abridge their First Amendment rights!’ is more than a little crazy.

Why are we discussing the fairness doctrine?

I really hope that no one here is under the impression that it could be used against Fox News, though it could certainly be used to neuter Rush Limbaugh while leaving Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher untouched.