The 1st Amendment and Campaign Finance Reform
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:
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.
It’s pretty plain and straightforward. But here’s a question:
What/whom does the First Amendment apply to? Does it give all of us a unique and individual voice? Or does it give both the individual and the corporate world a voice? It’s an interesting question. It’s one that I certainly don’t have the credentials to argue effectively. But I do have a point of view and would love to know what you all think.
I ask this because of the recent article on the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/25/lawmakers-seek-cash-durin_n_801269.html. And because of the recent Supreme Court decision in the matter of Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission.
Here’s my thesis:
I believe that the Constitution applies to the individual. It’s all about protecting you, a human being, from the potential abuses of the Federal government and business. There’s very little, if anything, in there that suggests it’s speaking to a collective, certainly not a collective of business interests. To my mind, it’s all about protecting the person from the collective. Whether it’s a government collective or a business collective, the Constitution is looking out for the little guy. After all, it’s our vote that really counts. Only a person can vote. The corporations can’t.
Therefore, the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to corporations or businesses. Sure, they have people working for them that might agree with their point of view but it should always be up to the individual to contribute money to a campaign. Only living, breathing human beings. Businesses shouldn’t be covered by the 1st amendment. So the Halliburton’s of the world…. The Wall Street firms… The insurance companies of the world shouldn’t be able to donate a dime. Why should individuals be limited in what they can donate contribute, while non-humans are free to spend as much as they like? If corporations are limited by the total combined contributions of their willing individual donors/employees, then fine. If the people who believe in their plight want to donate, then fine. If they take money from business/corporations, then I say the same rules should apply.
A side note: 50x, non-profits will be fine with me as long as they are only funded by the maximum donation of each individual donor, that probably isn’t the status quo but it should be.
Let me know what you think.
Had some formatting issues on the original post and comments were probably lost. Sorry!