Last week's post on Attorney Report was dedicated to the year in review, and looked at the most riveting cases and decisions of 2011, and the attorneys who litigated them. Of those covered, Attorney Report is on record as holding that all decisions dealing with attempts to overturn Citizens United were by far the most important.
Understanding why is a simple exercise of common sense. Decided by the Supreme Court in 2010, Citizens United went beyond supporting corporate business interests in politics; it articulated any corporation's right to sway the political landscape via unlimited campaign contributions in pursuit of its own profit-seeking best interests.
Moreover, because the decision was levied by the SCOTUS, it prohibits all state and local jurisdictions from implementing any effective campaign finance reform legislation. But here's the real kicker: SCOTUS rendered the decision by “individualizing” a corporation, thus entitling an organized business to the same First Amendment and constitutional rights as any person covered under the U.S. Constitution.
Common Sense: It's true that under modern-day legal doctrines, a person who is injured by the collective actions of a corporation can sue that corporation in name. And, should the injured prevail, he or she can expect to be compensated for their losses from the coffers of the named company.
Common Sense: However, the ability to be named in a lawsuit does not a person make.
Common Sense: Corporations must file and pay taxes to the government, as must individuals. But it should be duly noted here that because the corporation employs numerous persons, it receives a significant tax break in most local jurisdictions, and is afforded a vast array of filing flexibilities by the federal government (read: loopholes.) Individuals are not.
Common Sense: A corporation has a physical presence. People have a physical presence. The difference being that while a company's presence is apparent in bricks and mortar, a person is physically evident through organic matter.
Common Sense Conclusion: While modern social constructs have allowed the corporation to act as a legal entity with regard to matters of the law, the admittance of a corporation to any cause of action works to protect an individual's assets by shielding them from liability while they are employed under the corporate moniker.
Furthermore, corporations get tax-love because they employ people, and therefor help promote the highly praised social value of personal employment. We won't touch upon corporate America's trend of giving this socially valued prize to individuals who are not Americans.
It is sufficient and wholly logical to conclude that the corporation is an exact manifestation of social constructs. As such, the corporation exists only as We, The People, allow it to. In this vein, corporations are not individuals exerting individual will, but rather a collection of the goals and desires of people willing to be bound together by geographical borders.
One Final Common Sense: Yes, SCOTUS, there are “collectives” such as unions that seek a common voice. However, as the 2nd Circuit recently decided, these voices have little or nothing to do with profit-making, and more, if not everything, to do with the individual's desire to be employed.
Either - Or Whether your political philosophy relies heavily on an untethered capitalistic model, OR, if you believe that the greater good is served best by government regulation, you won't find any solace in the Citizens United decision.
That's because, in their opinion, the Justices have effectively hung out a sign that reads: All Roads Begin and End in the SCOTUS.