Corporate-owned WaPo Slams Court Ruling that Corporations Can Engage in Political Debate
A publicly-traded corporation, The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) publishes a daily newspaper which includes daily editorials aimed at influencing public opinion inside the corridors of Congress, White House, and regulatory agencies, and ultimately over voter preferences at the polls.
What's more, the Post Company's newspaper has demonstrated its willingness to devote virtually limitless resources in its efforts to pound out a negative drumbeat in the final days before an election. Just ask former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) or Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.), two targets of the paper's openly hostile campaigns to derail their candidacies in favor of their endorsed candidates, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and State Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Va.) respectively.
Yet when it comes to conservative groups or non-mainstream media for-profit corporation engaging in the same use of "unlimited independent expenditures" to influence voters, that's an entirely different story for the Post, which slammed yesterday's Supreme Court ruling as "Judicial Activism Inc.":
[M]aking a mockery of some justices' pretensions to judicial restraint, the Supreme Court unnecessarily and wrongly ruled 5 to 4 that the constitutional guarantee of free speech means that corporations can spend unlimited sums to help elect favored candidates or defeat those they oppose. This, as the dissenting justices wrote, "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation."
This result was unnecessary because the court's conservative majority -- including supposed exemplars of judicial modesty -- lunged to make a broad constitutional ruling when narrower grounds were available. It was wrong because nothing in the First Amendment dictates that corporations must be treated identically to people. And it was dangerous because corporate money, never lacking in the American political process, may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy.
Now, you have to give the Post some credit for its labored, melodramatic protest that its complaint is grounded in conservatism: protesting that the Court was decidedly "activist" in plainly interpreting the First Amendment, which, after all, states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
As such, isn't judicial activism better marked by a Court which would actively seek to uphold the abridgment of freedom of speech? And where in the text of the First Amendment is any distinction made between living, breathing human persons and corporations, which are free associations of, well, living, breathing human beings.
I seem to recall something in the First Amendment about the freedoms of assembly and petition for redress of grievances from the government. Isn't it injurious to the freedoms of association, assembly, and petition to limit the ability of corporate entities from expressing political opinions? Certainly the Washington Post would, and rightly so, scream bloody murder if the U.S. government sought to censor or silence its publications.
Another blow to the Post's "judicial activist" lament is that, as Justice Kennedy noted for the majority in Citizens United v. FEC, is that campaign finance case law precedents hold "that the First Amendment does not allow political speech restrictions based on a speaker's corporate identity."
"We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers. Both history and logic lead us to this conclusion," Kennedy argued.
But history and logic are not good enough for the Post, which favors unconstitutional legislation the aim of which is precisely to mark out those whom the Post considers "disfavored speakers" -- namely groups that may advertise heavily for conservative politicians and causes.
"[T]he damage of Thursday's ruling, under the false flag of free speech, will not be easily repaired," whined the Post at the close of its editorial.
The only damage that's been done is to the mainstream media's enthusiastic campaign for abridging free speech under the guise of "campaign finance reform."
One can only hope the wrecking ball will swing again in the near future to demolish more unconstitutional intrusions on our freedoms.