Reviewing the Supreme Court's ruling on campaign finance

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Jan. 22 editorial "Judicial Activism Inc." faulted the Supreme Court's Jan. 21 decision striking down limitations on campaign financing by corporations. The key point was: "Nothing in the First Amendment dictates that corporations must be treated identically to people."

There The Post goes again, reading into the Constitution things that it does not say, in order not to heed what it does say. Note the text in question: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

This wording makes no distinction between people and corporations. Some founders were lawyers, who understood that this distinction, convenient in court for arguing civil cases, has no place in articles of representative government or in a declaration of rights and freedoms.

The Constitution is not a living document to be written as we go. It is a living document with a provision for amending it (Article V). In its entirety, it is written not in legalese but in plain English. It says what it means, carefully says nothing more and means nothing more. Why is that so hard to understand?

John S. Mason Jr., Alexandria

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The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision -- a big step toward the end of the American dream -- follows logically from the court's worst decision ever: Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886, which granted corporations "personhood" under the 14th Amendment. In 1949, Justice William O. Douglas wrote, "the Santa Clara case becomes one of the most momentous of all our decisions. Corporations were now armed with constitutional prerogatives."

If corporations are to be persons, why not partnerships, citizens associations, baseball leagues or individual baseball teams? Where does it stop? Personhood should be restricted to those who bleed. And as we all know too well, Goldman Sachs does not bleed.

Robert A. Knisely, Severna Park


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