Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good Reading on the Citizens United Ruling

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a 5-4 Supreme Court majority struck down most restrictions on corporate financing of political campaigns, and while my first blush reaction is something akin to Keith Olbermann's scat-throwing meltdown, I admit Glenn Greenwald makes an effective rebuttal and poses some good questions in defense of the ruling.

To a close first approximation, the exertions of state power -- where it places its priorities and allocates its resources -- will reflect the balance of power in society, and will mirror the state of the ongoing conflicts in society. Confirmation of this arrives constantly in headlines bearing news of which laws pass, which fail, and which are seemingly forever in abeyance, and no less, in the pattern by which some serve lengthy terms in prison for small-time crimes while others receive taxpayer-funded bailouts for society-wide thievery. All of this was so before the Citizens United ruling. This is reality, whether or not it's cynical.

Still, there's something inherently spurious in the idea that corporations, artificial collective entities formed for the convenience of biological persons, are themselves rights-bearing persons. That's absurd. Lawrence Lessig has given some very good answers to Glennzilla's questions, pointing the way to better ways to understand the principles involved.

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