Lessig on Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to contribute to elections

I’m about to get on a plane, and I’ve only had a brief chance to look over the decision, but it appears the Supreme Court has struck down restrictions on corporate speech in political campaigns — overturning 20 years of campaign finance regulations and allowing corporations to wield unprecedented control over our elections.

What we need is a system in which the American people can trust that when Congress acts, it does so based on principle, or reason, or the will of the voters — but not on the need for campaign funds. This decision erodes that trust down to nothingness.

We need to act now to fix this broken system — and fortunately, the path forward is clear.

He makes the solid point that is not about who has free speech but rather we need citizen funded elections.

  • Are corporations really persons?

    Do corporations think?

    Do corporations weep?

    Do corporations fall in love?

    Do corporations grieve when a loved one dies as a result of a lack of adequate health care?

    Do corporations have loved ones?

    Are corporations even capable of loving?

    Do corporations sometimes lose sleep at night worrying about disease, violence, destruction, and the suffering of their fellow human beings?

    Do corporations feel your pain?

    Is a corporation capable of having a sense of humor? Is it capable of laughing at itself? (EXAMPLE: “So these two corporations walk into a bar….”)

    If a corporation ever committed an unspeakable crime against the American people, could IT be sent to federal prison? (Note the operative word here: “It”)

    Has a corporation ever walked into a voting booth and cast a ballot for the candidate of its choice?

    We all know that corporations have made a mountain of cash throughout our history by profiting on the unspeakable tragedy of war. But has a corporation ever given its life for its country?

    Is a corporation capable of raising a child?

    Has a corporation ever been killed in an accident as the result of a design flaw in the automobile it was driving?

    Has a corporation ever written a novel or a dramatic play or a song that inspired millions?

    Has a corporation ever risked its life by climbing a ladder to save a child from a burning house?

    Has a corporation ever won an Oscar? Or an Emmy? Or a Tony? Or the Nobel Peace Prize? Or a Polk or Peabody Award? Or the Pulitzer Prize in Biography?

    Has a corporation ever performed Schubert’s Ave Maria?

    Has a corporation ever been shot and killed by someone who was using an illegal and unregistered gun?

    Has a corporation ever paused to reflect upon the simple beauty of an autumn sunset or a brilliant winter moon rising in the horizon?

    If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise if there are no corporations there to hear it?

    Should corporations kiss on the first date?

    Could a corporation resolve to dedicate its vocation to being an artist? Or a musician? Or an opera singer? Or a Catholic priest? Or a Doctor? Or a Dentist? Or a sheet metal worker? Or a gourmet chef? Or a short-order cook? Or a magician? Or a nurse? Or a trapeze artist? Or an author? Or an editor? Or a Thrift Shop owner? Or a EMT worker? Or a book binder? Or a Hardware Store clerk? Or a funeral director? Or a sanitation worker? Or an actor? Or a comedian? Or a glass blower? Or a chamber maid? Or a film director? Or a newspaper reporter? Or a deep sea fisherman? Or a farmer? Or a piano tuner? Or a jeweler? Or a janitor? Or a nun? Or a Trappist Monk? Or a poet? Or a pilgrim? Or a bar tender? Or a used car salesman? Or a brick layer? Or a mayor? Or a soothsayer? Or a Hall-of-Fame football player? Or a soldier? Or a sailor? Or a butcher? Or a baker? Or a candlestick maker?

    Could a corporation choose to opt out of all the above and merely become a bum? Living life on the road, hopping freight trains and roasting mickeys in the woods?

    I realize that this is pure theological speculation on my part but the question is just screaming to be posed: When corporations die, do they go to Heaven?

    Our lives – yours and mine – have more worth than any damned corporation. The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday was beyond wrongheaded. Not only was it obscene – it was an insult to our humanity.

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

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