The Supreme Court for the USA has found that Corporations, as an entity, have the same natural status as a living person, and that a person can engage in willful lying, even if a person is lying by something as "sacred & patriotic" as having medals of honor from the USA military...
2012-06-28 "Lying about military honors protected, court rules" from "Washington Post"
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court struck down a federal law Thursday that made it a crime to falsely claim being awarded a top military honor, saying the law infringed on the Constitution's First Amendment protection of free speech.
The court ruling concerned the Stolen Valor Act, under which a Pomona man, Xavier Alvarez, was convicted for claiming falsely in 2007 that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor.
But Alvarez's attorneys convinced a lower court that his untruths were protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. And Thursday the Supreme Court agreed.
"Content based restrictions on speech have been permitted only for a few historic categories ... including incitement, obscenity, defamation," the court wrote.
Veterans groups expressed dismay.
"The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is greatly disappointed," the organization's commander in chief, Richard Denoyer, said in a statement. "Despite the ruling, the VFW will continue to challenge far-fetched stories, and to publicize these false heroes to the broadest extent possible as a deterrent to others."
The act allowed a fine and/or a six-month prison term for someone who "falsely represents himself or herself, verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States."
The penalty increases to a year in prison if the person lies about a Purple Heart, a Medal of Honor or another particularly high honor.
There was no question that Alvarez lied. After winning a seat on Southern California's Three Valleys Municipal Water District board of directors in 2007, he introduced himself by saying: "I'm a retired Marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy."
None of that was true. But a district judge overturned Alvarez's conviction by declaring the law a violation of the First Amendment.
2012-06-27 "When Does Corporate Personhood Begin and Other Questions" by Dylan Brody
This week the Supreme Court said that Montana cannot limit the power of corporations to act as if they were people. And by "act as if they were people," I mean throw their weight around for their own benefit.
A friend of mine is a Republican and when I mentioned that I thought the idea that corporations are people was absurd, he said that corporations are made up of people and should therefore be treated as people. I wouldn't have a problem with that if -- you know -- it made any sense at all. A lot of things are made up of people. Chess clubs are made up of people. The Ku Klux Klan is made up of people. Soylent Green is people. It's people! I don't think anyone is arguing that the Society for Creative Anachronism should have a say in the workings of our national government just because it is made up of people.
If corporations are people, all groups of people should be treated as people, and yet the same judiciary and legislative organizations that wish to give personhood to corporations are perfectly willing to disenfranchise groups that are less likely be valuable allies in elections. Forgive me for seeking consistency in our definitions. But wait. If corporations have personhood, does that personhood begin at the moment that a corporation is conceived? Can the abortion of a business plan that seems unprofitable be seen as murder or does it not become murder until the corporation is fully funded? Wouldn't personhood of corporations make Bain Capital a serial murderer and, as such, subject to incarceration? Or are corporate people subject to different laws from corporeal people?
Ultimately, the question of personhood is a clever misdirection when it comes to Citizens United. The real point of the ruling is that money equals speech. The unspoken but dangerous corollary to this idea is this: Poverty is silence. Corporations are very, very wealthy. They have great resources at their command and therefore they can buy a place at the table. Individuals who do not have deep coffers should shut up and mind their own business, which, obviously, they don't do very well or they would have bigger businesses to mind and therefore be prepared to buy a voice. Who would have thought the trick to free speech would be the ability to afford it?
Maybe I don't understand what free means.
2012-06-26 "Supreme Court Reaffirms Corporate Personhood, Rejects State Campaign Spending Limits" by Isaac Dalke
Between the analysis of yesterday’s immigration ruling and the anticipation of Thursday’s healthcare ruling, all eyes have have been transfixed on the U.S. Supreme Court this week. Some have even gone as far as to deconstruct Justice Ginsberg's sense of humor to divine future rulings.
Amidst this hullabaloo, you may have missed that the court also handed down a major decision on campaign finance. In special occasions, when the court feels as though the outcome of a case is clearly decided, it will forgo a full proceeding and issue a statement. Such was the case with American Tradition Partnership v Bullock. In a one-page statement [http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-1179h9j3.pdf], the court overturned a Montana state campaign finance law that limited outside corporate contributions to local and state elections. The unsigned ruling reads, “Montana’s arguments … either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.”
Many hoped that the fallout from 2010's Citizen's United ruling would provide sufficient reason for the court to revisit the ruling in that case. However, the brief dismissal of American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock appears to preclude the possibility of the Supreme Court revisiting campaign finance in the near future, and means that the Citizens United ruling definitively applies to all government elections in the U.S. Unlimited corporate spending in campaigns is now, without qualification, allowed in everything from presidential campaigns to school board elections.
Montana's Corrupt Practices Act, which included the expenditure ban overturned yesterday, grew out of a specific set of real concerns in Montana a hundred years ago. The act was the result of a 1912 citizen initiative that followed a series of scandals involving the state's largest copper barons, who used their money to elect state senators and judges sympathetic to their industry. The extent and audacity of the corruption brought the state national shame and scandal. Within Teddy Roosevelt's administration, the widespread corruption came to be known simply as the 'Montana Situation.'
In yesterday's ruling, four justices dissented. In the dissenting opinion, Justice Breyer wrote, “Given the history and political landscape in Montana, that court concluded that the State had a compelling interest in limiting independent expenditures by corporations. … Montana’s experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court’s decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the Court’s supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt.”
Justice Kennedy, the lone swing vote on the court who cast the decisive vote in Citizens United, rehashed his stance in siding with the majority. Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman writes [http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-25/justice-kennedy-leans-liberal-for-now.html], "Had the court given the Montana case full consideration, it might have found some way to distance itself from the consequences of Citizens United. That it did not do so suggests Kennedy is perfectly comfortable with his role as the decisive conservative vote in that momentous decision."
One option is to give it time—as the bench slowly changes composition in the future, new justices may be persuaded to revisit campaign finance. Currently, there are four justices over the age of 70: Ginsburg, Scalia, Kennedy and Breyer. Kennedy and Scalia, 76 and 75 respectively, may not be willing to revisit the case, but their successors might.
Calls continue or a 28th Ammendment that would reverse Citizens United by abolishing corporate personhood. A resolution in support of such an amendment was introduced to the Senate in 2011, and currently has 22 cosponsers. Montana voters themselves will see a ballot initiative this November that would call on the state's elected officials to support such an amendment.
A third, but highly unlikely option, is for polititians to renounce outside corporate campaign financing and the influence of Super PACs. Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown struck such an agreement in their race for one of Massachussett's Senate seats. Wouldn't it be nice to think that politicians could live above the influence of money?