Limiting the Impact of Corporate Money in Politics
In his State of the Union address, President Obama said the Supreme Court had "reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections." As Justice Alito could be seen mouthing the words "that's not true" in response, Obama went on to say he didn't "think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities" and to call on Congress pass a bill limiting the power of corporations to affect elections.
While financial reform legislation dominates the political headlines, Congress is finally preparing to do as President Obama asked. In his speech Obama was referring the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that Congress can't pass a law prohibiting corporations or unions from paying for political advertising. The legal question is murky. It's not obvious that spending money to broadcast advertising is speech in the sense that is protected by the Constitution. Nor is it clear that corporations should necessarily have the same rights to express themselves as their individual members. In his dissent, the now retiring Justice Stevens worried about "the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering" and said that the ruling threatened "to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation." In the end, however, the majority decided that it was hard to draw a bright line between corporate political advertising and protected private political speech.
The decision completely overturned the court's 1990 decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and it called into question—although without directly reversing—more than a hundred years of law limiting the ability of corporations to make contributions to political campaigns. It probably tilts the electoral balance somewhat toward Republicans, who typically receive more corporate support than Democrats. But it is not merely a partisan issue. At stake is whether corporations should have even more influence over the political process than they already do. And while people are generally sympathetic to the argument that campaign spending is a form of speech, a large majority favors limiting the ability of corporations to participate in political campaigns. As President Obama said in one of his radio addresses, the ruling "gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way—or to punish those who don't."
There's not much Congress can do to limit corporations' ability to produce political advertising if it's protected by the First Amendment. But the Supreme Court did leave open the possibility that Congress could prevent corporations from producing advertisements anonymously. So the Democrats are proposing legislation that would force corporations to disclose that they paid for their ads, and would even require CEOs to personally appear in their company's ads and to take responsibility for their message. The law would make it difficult for corporations to take positions they could not defend, as well as give voters a way to judge whether ads were biased or self-serving. While the Republican leadership has attacked the proposal as a way to game the fall elections, it has attracted at least one Republican sponsor, and its broad popular appeal makes it likely to pass.
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.
- July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
- Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
- NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
- Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
- Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
- These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.
- Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
- The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
- If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.