What part of 'Congress shall make no law...' don't they understand?
I know it's Friday and I didn't get much sleep last night, but Holy Moley, Batman - are Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats serious about this?
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday endorsed a movement announced by other congressional Democrats on Wednesday to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow Congress to regulate political speech when it is engaged in by corporations as opposed to individuals.
The First Amendment says in part: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."
Television and radio networks, newspapers, publishing houses, movie studios and think tanks, as well as political action committees, are usually organized as, or elements of, corporations.
Pelosi said the Democrats' effort to amend the Constitution is part of a three-pronged strategy that also includes promoting the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for organizations running political ads, and "reducing the role of money in campaigns" (which some Democrats have said can be done through taxpayer funding of campaigns).
The constitutional amendment the Democrats seek would reverse the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that decision the court said that the First Amendment protects a right of free speech for corporations as well as for individuals, and that corporations (including those that produce newspapers, films and books) have a right to speak about politicians and their records just as individuals do.
"We have a clear agenda in this regard: Disclose, reform the system reducing the role of money in campaigns, and amend the Constitution to rid it of this ability for special interests to use secret, unlimited, huge amounts of money flowing to campaigns," Pelosi said at her Thursday press briefing.
Nothing wrong with transparency and there are ways to reduce the huge amounts of money spent on campaigns without tapping taxpayers to fill the coffers of incumbents.
But amending the First amendment? Part of the problem is that Pelosi is ignorant of American history:
"I think one of the presenters [at a Democratic forum on amending the Constitution] yesterday said that the Supreme Court had unleashed a predator that was oozing slime into the political system, and that, indeed, is not an exaggeration," said Pelosi. "Our Founders had an idea. It was called democracy. It said elections are determined by the people, the voice and the vote of the people, not by the bankrolls of the privileged few. This Supreme Court decision flies in the face of our Founders' vision and we want to reverse it."
Just as an aside, perhaps Pelosi could point out where this "oozing slime" that isn't an exaggeration might be oozing. I certainly don't want to step in it. There's enough crap strewn around Washington that we don't need to add to our worries about soiling our good shoes by being taken unawares by slime oozing from...somewhere.
But it's a helluva time for Nancy and the Democrats to go all strict constructionist on us. In fact, the Founders' idea was not "democracy" but "republic" - and a republic that set up an electoral college of rich and privileged white men to keep the rubes from picking someone like Obama for president.
The Founders were products of their time and based a lot of what they put into the constitution on their reading of history. Much was made in the Philadelphia debates about the Greeks and Romans and how their excess of democracy brought them down. They were wrong. Other factors were involved in the destruction of those two civilizations. But there is no doubt that the Constitution was written at least partly, to keep "the mob" from having too much say in the high affairs of state.
At any rate, we welcome Pelosi and the Democrats to the school of thought that the "Founder's vision" is important and should guide politicians when making laws. Where they'll be tomorrow on the issue is another question.