Archive for Monday, September 15, 2014

Senate candidates differ on overturning Citizens United ruling

September 15, 2014


— U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts last week voted against a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit campaign expenditures by corporations. But Greg Orman, his independent challenger in this year's election, said he would support such an amendment.

Roberts was among 42 Republican senators who voted Thursday against closing debate on Senate Joint Resolution 19, a constitutional amendment that would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as "Citizens United."

The court said in that case that limits on independent expenditures by corporations and other groups violate their First Amendment rights to free speech.

“Our founding fathers knew that those in power would be inclined to retain it and, unless constrained, would use their power to punish those who would seek to challenge them or remove them from office,” Roberts said in a speech to the Senate Sept. 8. “The First Amendment denies us that power. It explicitly prohibits this Congress from passing laws that restrict the speech of the American people. With this amendment, the majority wants to try to remove that prohibition. They want to grant themselves the power to control speech — to silence their opposition.”

Orman, however, said he would support such an amendment as part of a broader package of campaign finance reform measures, including stricter limits on contributions from political action committees.

“Current campaign finance laws are a perfect example of how both parties are focused on their personal or partisan benefit instead of the American public,” Orman said in a statement released Monday. “The lack of transparency allowed under Citizens United benefits Washington’s broken system at the expense of an informed electorate, and even more alarming is that the decision opens up the door for significant foreign influence in U.S. elections because donations can be made through any U.S. corporation.”

The Citizens United case involved a conservative political group that wanted to air a film during the 2008 election cycle that was critical of Hillary Clinton, who was then a U.S. senator from New York seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. The group also sought to buy advertising time to promote the movie, and to distribute it through video-on-demand cable services.

But the Federal Election Commission said that would have violated the campaign finance law in place at the time, a law known as the McCain-Feingold Act which prohibited corporations and labor unions from making direct or independent expenditures in support or opposition to identifiable candidates.

On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the FEC, in favor of Citizens United, saying among other things that corporations are protected by the First Amendment's right to free speech.

The vote to end debate on the amendment failed on a straight party-line vote: 54 Democrats voted yes, while 42 Republicans, including both senators from Kansas, voted no. Three Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

Also voting no was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the senators after whom the McCain-Feingold Act was named.

A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of Congress and ratification by at least two-thirds of the states.


Richard Sloat 3 years, 9 months ago

Citizens United is really not about free speech it is about money. Money is not speech it is power that can buy speech and access to politicians. The flood of money into our Politics has distorted our democracy. We use to believe in equal access for all in our democratic discourse but if the wealthy are permitted unlimited power to buy speech then they drown out those with less wealth. This brings us closer to plutocracy where only the wealthy have voice. We should hear clearly all sides in a democracy which necessitates limiting the power of money in political campaigns.

My video is now on YouTube. It is a political satire, entitled "Washington Money Talk". Here is the link;

Bob Smith 3 years, 9 months ago

"...The flood of money into our Politics has distorted our democracy...." Such as a certain presidential candidate's refusal to accept public funding in 2008 and 2012?

Chris Golledge 3 years, 9 months ago

People have the right to speak, corporations are not people. A bucket holding apples is not an apple.

Corporations exist only to make money. That's not a bad thing; I am happy to get a paycheck. But, but maximizing profits of the companies currently making the most money in the coming quarter is often not in the best long term interest of the populace at large.

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

Let's explore your analogy.

If a corporation is the same as a bucket, an inanimate object with no right to speak then it follows an inanimate object should be charged with crimes, pay taxes or be expected to give back to the community.

But the problem is a corporation isn't like a bucket. Unlike the bucket a corporation is the people who own it. It is an extension of them.

I really don't have a problem with silencing corporations but it must include all corporations including non-profits, advocacy groups, unions, etc.

Jim Slade 3 years, 9 months ago

"Unlike the bucket a corporation is the people who own it."

Then those people can contribute individually. No need to have a corporation due it for them.

So if a human owns the bucket holding the apples, the human is therefor apples?

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

And if the man who owns the bucket hits you with it who gets charged withe crime and from who can you collect damages? The man of course so if a corporation is like a bucket you shouldn't be able to sue the corporation or file charges against them.

My point is there difference between a bucket and a corporation. We want to attribute human qualities to them but with that comes other I intended ones like being able to have free speech rights.

Jim Slade 3 years, 9 months ago

If multiple people own the bucket, but only one person does the swinging, is everyone charged?

How about if there's a vote by the ownership of that bucket and the majority decides the person holding the bucket is to commit the violent act. Do we only go after the swinger or do we charge the others as well since it was their decision?

John Graham 3 years, 9 months ago

Then no need for unions to donate for their membership. How many democrats (who get the vast majority of union money) will vote for that?

Chris Golledge 3 years, 9 months ago

Did I say a corporation was the same as a bucket? No.

I own pieces of several corporations, and I work for one, but I don't recall any of them asking me about political contributions. I own them because I expect them to make money; I don't own them because of the political stances of the CEO. So, how is, say, John Deere, an extension of me? I am John Deere? That is interesting.

Let's consider citizenship a moment. By your logic, BP is a corporation that exists in America and so is entitled to a voice in American politics. Lot's of British citizens own BP. Therefore, British citizens have the right to influence American politics.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 9 months ago

Wait a minute. I thought that if the SCOTUS made a ruling it was settled law. Like abortion, for example.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

I realize that you conservatives consider the president to be a dictator, but there is a Congress. A Congress who could pass laws eliminating all these horrible regulations that keep you from getting rich. A Congress who could clean up the tax laws, so that corporations would pay a fair rate, instead of hiring lots of accountants to pay less. Why haven't they done this? Oh yeah, Obamacare, Benghazi, a Kenyan president, etc.

But the biggest reason is over-regulation helps big companies stifle competition. So does a large tax rate. They can more easily afford accountants to play the tax game and pay little or no taxes, but their smaller competitors can't. They also have the resources to move their money out of the country, which smaller competitors can't. If you really think this is capitalism and the free market, then I have a bridge I would like to sell you in Brooklyn.

Read your constitution. Presidents do have some powers to regulate, but they do not set the tax rates or make the tax laws. And most regulations are passed by Congress. If the House is controlled by Republicans, why isn't there lots of bills pouring out that changes the tax rates and regulations. And don't tell me it's because the Senate would block them. Those bills just do not exist.

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

Dorothy, I agree that the president is supposed to have limited powers but then explain how Obama was able to delay the employer mandate. The ACA as determined by the SCOTUS was a tax so Obama and not Congress changed the ACA He changed taxed law by himself.

How do reconcile this with what you just said about his limited powers?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

He is in charge of putting laws into effect. Because this was such a major undertaking, he made the decision that some things would have to be given more time. He didn't eliminate the mandate, but implementing it apparently was taking more time than necessary. He also had to change the rules temporarily for those who suddenly realized they were going to lose their crappy health insurance. He allowed them to keep it for awhile, or he let the states decide, I can't remember. This wasn't a law that was that simple.

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

Dorothy you're talking out of both sides of your mouth now. The law was very specific when the employer mandate was to start and Obama, all by himself, changed that date and in effect changed the law.

Admit it, your man acted without Congress in changing established law which said he couldn't do.

James Howlette 3 years, 9 months ago

Aside from the fact that this isn't a radical new use of executive powers, sure. Aside from the fact that Congress voted to do the exact same thing at around the exact same time, sure. Obama totally acted without Congress in "changing" established law by delaying the federal enforcement of said law.

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

Strawman argument James. No one said that it hasn't been done before.

And are you saying Congress passed an amendment to the law delaying the employer mandate? If so, I missed it.

James Howlette 3 years, 9 months ago

Then you missed it. The House voted 264-161 to delay the employer mandate in 2013.

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

But when did it get passed by the Senate and signed by the president?

You said Congress voted. The house is only one part of Congess.

Without passage in both chambers and signing by the president it means nothing.

James Howlette 3 years, 9 months ago

You said he acted "without Congress." Which is also Boehner's contention with his pointless lawsuit against Obama for having he audacity to do what the House wanted him to do. The House, majority Republican, voted. The Senate presumably agrees with the prez on the issue, so it wasn't acting against congressional will in using executive authority. It's frankly bizarre that they're so up in arms for him for doing what they wanted to do.

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

He did act without Congress. The House wanted to delay both the employer and individual mandate.

The House is part of Congress but not all of Congress. Face James, you're wrong. Obama acted alone through executive order effectively changing law.

And you continue to use strawman arguments. Nowhere did I say I disagreed with him nor suggest I was up in arms. I simply pointed out to Dorothy that the President is not dependent on Congress to make changes to the law. He can act by himself.

As for the Senate agreeing with the prez why didn't they pass the House bill?

James Howlette 3 years, 9 months ago

The House voted separately on the individual and employer mandates. Along with 2342343 other varieties of delaying, defunding, or repealing.

I'm not making a strawman argument. You should learn what that means if you want to toss the term around. I used your exact phrase, and I kept in quotes. I never said you were up in arms, although your insistence on calling that molehill a mountain does tend to make one wonder.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

There have been glitches in this legislation, and a Congress who cared about US citizens would have worked to fix these glitches, but they were only capable of trying to get rid of it so all their insurance investments and for profit hospitals could keep on making more and more money, because money is more important to them than health. I've lost track of the time and money they spent trying to get rid of it. Why aren't you upset about a Congress that could care less about the American people, and only care about the corporations, who are not people, but who make sure the congressman gets rich while serving in Congress, well at least if they do what they are told? Why don't you get upset about a Congress which is trying to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions or from the person who works for a multi billion dollar business, but doesn't even get insurance? Whine, whine, whine, but no solution. Why? Because everything is profit; humans don't count.

Munchma Quchi 3 years, 9 months ago

It is settled law... until we change the constitution. If we change the constitution regarding abortion, then the law will again be unsettled. Abortion opponents are reluctant to tackle the supreme courts ruling head on by altering the constitution because they are weak and afraid. In the end, they try to upend settled law by creating all sorts of new but weak and cowardly regulations in order to claim moral victory.

James Howlette 3 years, 9 months ago

If they changed the constitution they'd a) run out of social issues to run against and b) give their opposition a social issue to run on, since they'd have news reports of women who died like Savita Halappanavar or Gerri Santaro.

They're getting a bit too uncomfortably close to that point already - especially now that they're removing basic women's care and fighting birth control.

Josh Thompson 3 years, 9 months ago

SCOTUS judges are appointed by the money-grubbing politicians?

Jim Slade 3 years, 9 months ago

A Constitutional amendment would trump SCOTUS.

SCOTUS is saying the law is Constitutional with our current Constitution. Change that Constitution and the law no longer becomes Constitutional.

Get it?

Brock Masters 3 years, 9 months ago

This exactly how it should be done, but god luck getting it done.

Greg Cooper 3 years, 9 months ago

That's true, to an extent, Scott, but legislation to change or alter a situation can happen. The Supreme Court only codifies the rule of law as it pertains to the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court never changes the direction of law regardless of what you might want to imply.

But you know that.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

Money is not free speech, it's bribery. If a corporation can prove that it is all American, maybe I could go along with this. They would have to prove they have no foreign investors or foreign investments. We voters have to prove our citizenship, why not corporations? They would have to prove that they pay at least the same rate in taxes that the rest of us do. Not the rate that's on paper, but the actual rate that they pay after their accountants are finished. And instead of paying fines if the rip off people or pollute rivers, their CEO and any executives involved need to go to prison. This doesn't exactly happen, does it? Corporations are made up of people, but they are not people.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 3 years, 9 months ago

I wish I could give credit to the person that said it first but the best argument I have heard about corporations being people is " I will believe Corporations are People when Texas Executes one."

Chris Golledge 3 years, 9 months ago

Would it be enough if you got to see the birth certificate?

William Weissbeck 3 years, 9 months ago

Do I really have free speech if your megaphone drowns out my speech? Do I have free speech if I have to pay an exorbitant sum to express it? Do I have free speech if your megaphone is used to express borderline defamatory statements, but which because of the public interest/public person exception, I can't sue to stop or to seek damages for?

Josh Thompson 3 years, 9 months ago

It isn't about controlling speech, it's about regulating who's lining the pockets of America's politicians.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

By Sahil Kapur

Published September 15, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT

As expected, Senate Republicans filibustered legislation on Monday aimed at helping women fight for equal pay in the workplace, a vote held by Democrats to attack the GOP ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

The vote was 52 for, 40 against, falling short of the 60 needed to defeat a filibuster.

The legislation cleared an initial "cloture" motion on Wednesday to begin debate, which Republicans may have done to eat up Senate time that Democrats want to use for other election-year votes. The procedural vote on Monday blocks a final up-or-down vote on the bill, ensuring its failure.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who talk to coworkers about their salaries. It would also require more data collection of employee salaries from businesses.

Democrats widely expected the bill to fail because Senate Republicans have previously blocked the same legislation before in 2012 and earlier in 2014.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

We the People, Not We the Corporations

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.

We Move to Amend.

". . . 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." ~Supreme Court Justice Stevens, January 2010

Steve Jacob 3 years, 9 months ago

I am going to call out the Democrats on this vote. I rip on the Republicans in the House bringing up getting rid of Obamacare when they know it's a waste of time, why bring this to a vote when you know it's going nowhere.

And FYI, we many never see a constitutional amendment added ever again.

Jim Slade 3 years, 9 months ago

How many times did the House bring up the Obamacare repeal vote? 70+ times?

This was 1 vote. Quite a big difference.

So if a bill, in your opinion, doesn't have a good chance of being passed it should never even be brought up for a vote? How are we ever going to know what our delegates are doing if they never vote on anything?

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