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Post Citizens United and Transparency: Obama
Created by John Eipper on 09/12/11 2:30 PM

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Citizens United and Transparency: Obama (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 09/12/11 2:30 pm)

The Citizens United case has profound implications for US democracy. I cannot understand how any Supreme Court or member of Congress can justify this blatant disregard for democracy. Are so many Republicans going insane? Can anyone explain this?


JE comments:  Citizens United strikes me as one of the most unfair SCOTUS decisions since Dred Scott, so I cannot be impartial here.  What is interesting is President Obama's newest tactic:  appear bipartisan, quote Republican Rushmore greats (Abraham Lincoln a few days ago, Teddy Roosevelt in the video above), and make a flanking maneuver to the American people.  Are the people "buying" it?  So far, no:  see the (mostly unprintable) viewer comments beneath the YouTube clip.  They seem evenly divided between ABO (anyone but Obama) and TATS (they're all the same--Republicrats and Democans alike).

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  • Citizens United Case (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 09/13/11 4:01 AM)
    JE wrote on 12 September:

    "Citizens United strikes me as one of the most unfair SCOTUS decisions since Dred Scott."

    Citizens United was supported by, among many other groups of different political persuasions, the American Civil Liberties Union, who filed an amicus curae brief in support of the plaintiffs, arguing that the campaign finance law in question was "unconstitutional on its face".

    See: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/citizens-united-v-federal-election-commission

    I'm not sure whether I agree with it or not--I haven't read it, and haven't thought about it enough--but I don't think that the decision is obviously crazy in any case. It is about the right of collective free speech, the right of free speech of groups, in this case--unions and corporations. Why should union members be prohibited from expressing their political opinions by collectively funding political speech? Why should the shareholders of companies be so restricted? The law which was partially struck down--the McCain-Feingold Act--imposed sweeping prohibitions on "electioneering communications" by unions and companies, broadly defined. In fact, in this case, it was a not even a political advertisement, but a documentary movie about Hillary Clinton which was suppressed under the law. It is a fundamental part of our political system that free speech may be restricted by the state only in the most extraordinary cases. The Supreme Court has usually been fairly aggressive over the centuries in protecting free speech rights, and in my opinion, this is good--any freedom-loving person should look with extreme skepticism at any attempt by the state to restrict free speech, in my opinion.

    The dissent argued that collective speech is not the same as individual speech. They have a point worth considering, but it is not at all obvious that they are correct. And even if we agree that collective speech is different from individual speech, should collective speech be unprotected by the Constitution? Individual speech may never be heard--what is one voice crying in the wilderness? Why should union members or shareholders be forbidden from authorizing their unions or companies to spend their money on political advertising? Why should political parties have an unrestricted right to spend money getting out a political message, exercising their right to collective free speech, while unions, for example, are forbidden from doing the same thing? I do not think that the answers to these questions are at all obvious.

    By the way, when did we start calling the Supreme Court "SCOTUS"? Is the President now "POTUS"? Are we reading too much Tom Clancy, perhaps?

    JE comments: We've been using SCOTUS for awhile on WAIS; admittedly it's not a very sonorous acronym. "WAIS" sounds better. I don't remember who the first SCOTUSing WAISer was.

    Regarding Citizens United, my objection is how it deepens the campaign finance quagmire. For starters, it makes campaigns even more expensive and gives organizations a new avenue to buy candidates and sway outcomes. Is democracy in any way served by the CU decision?  If First Amendment free speech is the justification for CU, by extension shouldn't all caps on campaign contributions be equally unconstitutional?

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    • Citizens United Case (Tor Guimaraes, USA 09/14/11 12:22 PM)

      In response to Cameron Sawyer (13 September), whatever the wonderful principles guiding the ACLU (and I am a great believer in free speech) and other supporters in the Citizens United case, the effect is equivalent to allowing a few big political players to use megaphones (large sums of money) to make their free speeches to large crowds while denying the same tool/right to regular citizens. And then we wonder why is it that Congress has become the largest prostitution house in the nation.

      JE comments:  Tor Guimaraes gives us a blunter version of David Westbrook's posting from yesterday.  Is political virtue still possible?  More to the point:  can the Citizens United case in any way be seen as leading politicians down the path of social good?

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  • Citizens United Case (John Heelan, UK 09/13/11 4:29 AM)
    So what's new? The US has been drifting towards a "corporate state" for decades, if not for the last 100 years or so. (Alain de Benoist's informed comments would be instructive in this discussion.) Once corporations (and powerful political lobby groups) can "buy" government and justice, what hope is there for democracy? Are stockholders the new demos?

    JE comments: I would agree with John Heelan, except for the "empowered stockholder" suggestion. Rank-and-file stockholders have virtually no say in director-managerial decisions. Indeed, the interests of the two groups are often at odds.

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  • Citizens United Case (Randy Black, USA 09/13/11 4:40 AM)
    Tor Guimaraes and John Eipper (12 September) expressed strong objections to the nearly two year-old US Supreme Court decision on Citizens United (CU) v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 08-205. I must ask why Tor waited so long to complain?

    I sort of surmise that neither Tor nor John has read the Supreme Court's January 2010 decision and the reasons that the court overturned McCain-Feingold, the law that was passed in 2002.

    Tor's lamented that the decision to overturn McCain-Feingold is "a blatant disregard for democracy."

    The irony for Democrats, I suppose, is that the CU lawsuit was based on the FEC's 2008 ruling that banned an anti-Hillary Clinton film released by CU.

    Adding to the irony, Barack Obama benefited the most politically from the 90-minute film that, while shown in movie theaters, was banned from television by the FEC. It was even banned from pay-per-view cable television.


    Additionally, the decision by the SCOTUS does not spell the end to regulations on corporate donations. Corporations were and remain able to donate via their PACs and other means. Ask George Soros if McCain-Feingold slowed down his donations to the liberals in Congress or the White House.

    And just so you'll know, direct contributions by corporations to candidates remain banned under this decision. Additionally, eight justices agreed that Congress can continue to require corporations to reveal their spending to the public and to their shareholders.

    Citing dozens of decisions, Justice Stevens, writing for the majority, said, "we have long held that corporations are covered by the First Amendment."


    "When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought," Justice Kennedy wrote. "This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."

    Sidebar: John mentioned President Obama's recent bipartisan reference to the "Republican Abraham Lincoln (in the president's September 8 speech to Congress). Actually, the president stated that Abraham Lincoln founded the Republican Party, which as most high school students know is not true. It's at the 28:28 point of the attached media clip. I sort of recall that our founder, Ronald Hilton, claimed allegiance to the Whigs, which most students know were the actual founders of the Republican Party in the 1850s.

    If Sarah Palin had made such a gaffe, the media would have had a field day. Yet the media was silent when it came from the lips of "their guy."


    JE comments:  We've been discussing Citizen's United since it was first handed down in January 2010.  John Heelan was the first to post on the subject, followed by David Westbrook, Robert Whealey and others.  Our colleague Tor Guimaraes raised an objection to CU as early as 19 February 2010:


    Regarding Abraham Lincoln as the founder of the Republican party, it is true that as the first GOP president, he founded the Republican dynasty and oversaw its transition from a fringe party to the mainstream.  President Obama probably wouldn't have gotten as much bang for his rhetorical buck if he quoted John C. Frémont or the now-forgotten delegates at the conferences in Ripon or Jackson.  (See Mike Bonnie's recent posting on Ripon, Wisconsin, and my reply in defense of Jackson, Michigan as the competing birthplaces of the Republican party.)

    Obama's gaffe to my mind doesn't reach the magnitude of confusing John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy.

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    • Citizens United Case (Robert Whealey, USA 09/14/11 1:39 AM)
      The main objection I have to the Citizens United case (2010) is not the relatively minor decision to overturn the McCain-Feingold finance law. Rather the five justices reached back to 1907 to overturn a progressive law of Congress then passed to limit corporate finance of federal elections. The national and international corporations now have the power to buy all future elections in the US. Corporate power and rights are now privileged over the original Constitution drawn up to protect individual rights. The first 10 amendments plus the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th amendments were intended to protect individuals from government. Corporate personhood now trumps all real, natural-born individuals.

      The 14th amendment was intended to give black males citizenship in the US. Conservative judges beginning in 1886 misused the 14th Amendment to expand the rights of corporate "personhood"--a legal fiction.

      Footnote: Justice Stevens, cited favorably in Randy Black's posting of 13 September, has now retired. He was the last Protestant to sit on the Supreme Court, and no Protestant has ever been promoted by Barack Obama and the current Senate Judiciary Committee.

      JE comments: I never stopped to take notice, but with the retirements of Justices Souter and Stevens, every current member of the Supreme Court is either Roman Catholic or Jewish. Popularly perceived as a bastion of WASP culture and values, the Supreme Court no longer has any WASPs.

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      • Religion of Supreme Court Justices (David Duggan, USA 09/15/11 10:10 AM)
        When commenting Robert Whealey's post of 14 September, JE wrote:

        "[W]ith the retirements of Justices Souter and Stevens, every current member of the Supreme Court is either Roman Catholic or Jewish. Popularly perceived as a bastion of WASP culture and values, the Supreme Court no longer has any WASPs."

        Not to mention the death of Rehnquist and the conversion of Clarence Thomas (from Episcopalian to Roman Catholicism).

        JE comments: With six Catholics and three Jews, the lack of religious diversity on the Supreme Court is quite astounding. I haven't heard any clamor for equal representation from Muslims or Protestants of all stripes, however. Has there ever been a declared atheist on the Court? Apparently not:


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        • Religion of Supreme Court Justices (Edward Jajko, USA 09/16/11 1:20 AM)
          JE's comments, not to mention David Duggan's (15 September), have me at a disadvantage. Maybe it's because I went to a Roman Catholic parochial school, and not a public elementary school, but I have been searching through my memory, trying to recall the Civics class from my elementary school days in which we were taught that there is a religious test for public office in the United States. It must be somewhere in the Constitution of the United States, but who can understand that 18th-century language these days?

          The two senators from my state of California are women, and both are Jews. One did have a Roman Catholic parent and Roman Catholic elementary schooling, but opted, when given the choice, for Judaism. I am a Roman Catholic male. I guess I am not represented by either of my senators. I am a somewhat conservative Republican, and my senators are a perhaps left-of-center Diane Feinstein and a left-of-Chairman-Mao Barbara Boxer. I guess I am not represented. My congressman, thanks to gerrymandering that was designed to include the large population of persons of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean ancestry in Cupertino and Sunnyvale in his district, is Japanese-American Mike Honda. I am a Polish American. I don't know and don't care what Mike Honda's religion may be, but I am not, in California terms, "Asian." I guess I am not represented. Before the gerrymandering, my representative in Congress was Anna Eshoo, who is a member of the Assyrian Church of the East, and, of course, a woman. I guess I was not represented. My representative in the California legislature is named Fong. Again, I'm not represented. My state senator is Joe Simitian. Same thing. Well, at least both are male, so maybe there's 50% representation by both.

          This idea that there should be "representation" on the Supreme Court is pernicious. If there is any legitimacy to it, then the call should be not for an atheist, or a Muslim, or the reintroduction of some sort of Protestant, but for at least five of the justices to be women, to "represent" the 51% or more or the population that is female. Of course, since "representation" would be the goal, each of those five woman justices would have to be a member of some minority religious group or else be a proclaimed atheist or at least an agnostic. Perhaps then the "representationists" might be satisfied.

          On the other hand, as a Roman Catholic, I feel quite comfortable with six Catholic justices on the Supreme Court. Roman Catholicism is the majority Christian faith in the US. It is high time that Catholicism, and not WASP Protestantism, be accorded its due "representation." Are people still afraid that American Catholics in public life take their cues from the Vatican?

          JE comments: Ed Jajko makes an excellent point that identity politics should play no role in selecting judges or our elected officials. Politics (without the "identity" part) always has. My original observation was not a complaint about how representative the Supreme Court is, merely an observation (after Robert Whealey) that it's remarkable there is no Protestant among the Nine, for the first time in US history.

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          • Religion of Supreme Court Justices (John Heelan, UK 09/16/11 7:18 AM)
            Ed Jajko (16 September) wrote that Roman Catholicism is the majority Christian faith in the US and that "on the other hand, as a Roman Catholic, I feel quite comfortable with six Catholic justices on the Supreme Court. Roman Catholicism is the majority Christian faith in the US. It is high time that Catholicism, and not WASP Protestantism, be accorded its due 'representation.'"

            Ed might be interested in the 2008 report that states "The nation's largest Christian group, the Catholics, gained 11 million, thanks largely to immigration and now numbers just over 57 million adult self-identifiers, but the Catholic percentage of the national population still fell from 26.2 percent to 25.1 percent between 1990 and 2008," whereas "the Other Christian category, largely composed of adherents of the Protestant Churches and traditions, also gained 11 million people but fell from 60 to 51 percent of the total population."" **


            The Pew Forum Religious Landscape Report states: "Also the margin (46% Catholic vs. 24% Protestant); among native-born Americans, on the other hand, the statistics show that Protestants outnumber Catholics by an even larger margin (55% Protestant vs. 21% Catholic)."


            Why should any single strand of religion have preference?

            JE comments: My understanding is that Roman Catholicism is the largest single Christian group in the US, but the myriad Protestant denominations, if grouped together, outnumber the Catholics. On my local level, Adrian College is historically linked to the United Methodist Church, but students who self-identify as Catholics are our largest single constituency.

            Probably the fastest growing US religious groups in percentage terms:  "non-denominational" Christians, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and Muslims.

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            • Religion of Supreme Court Justices (Robert Whealey, USA 09/17/11 4:18 PM)
              Regarding these statistics on church attendance from John Heelan (Catholic and Protestant voters), and the religious comments by various Presidents, the 100 Democratic and Republican Senators and the nine Justices on the Supreme Court have made some odd religious pronouncements.

              Since 1964, how have the political leaders interpreted America's traditional religions? Since Eisenhower's retirement, and more importantly, since Jimmy Carter's retirement, in 1980, I have had little faith in what many Members of Congress and all the Presidents have said and done about religious opinion. Have they understood much about the meaning of the Scriptures or the law codes of the US?

              The nine Justices on the Supreme Court have made some strange interpretations about war, when human life begins and ends, marriage, divorce, adultery and homosexuality.

              Moses's Commandment "thou shall not kill" has been since 1945 largely ignored. Presidents who went to war in the Civil War and the two World Wars at least gave the country and explanation about their political and military decisions. Since 1964 most members of Congress and Presidents have been hell-bent on sending young men into foreign wars--Korea, Indochina, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Both parties seem to be led by unthinking militarists.

              Jesus and St Paul, if they could return to earth, would wonder what and how self-proclaimed "Christians" today really love about their neighbors in the US.

              What would Jeremiah and Isaiah have said about the militarized State of Israel and their "Christian Zionists" in America?

              JE comments: Yes, one thing is never in short supply: odd religious pronouncements.

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              • Moses and "Thou Shalt Not Kill" (Norman Tutorow, USA 09/19/11 2:38 AM)
                In response to Robert Whealey's thoughts on Moses (17 September), if an ancient Egyptian-Hebrew-proto-Jew commands his audience not to commit murder, why should this piece of advice be thought to apply to anyone outside his sphere of influence? Even then, he failed to define his terms, convince his followers of his authority, or even cite an authority.

                Moses never once condemned anyone for sitting in houses of ill-repute the day following the sabbath and pretending that they are telling the worst imaginable being they could conjure up that he is good. By whose standards was he good? By his own? By those of Moses? Can't you just hear old Yahweh purr as self-acknowledged "sinners" flatter him (or her, or it) with grandiose lies he is so gullible and arrogant and ignorant as to swallow?

                It seems to me that the object of their feigned affection is the worse murderer of all, for according to some people who pretend he is good even though he flies in the face of Moses's maxim (by the way, why does Moses speak in fifteen-century English?). After all, he not only murders his enemies, but eventually all his miserable, so-called friends.

                Perhaps the object of their pretended veneration is a Muslim, who practices religion called Islam, which leaves rulers like those of Iran, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan... holding absolute power, even the power of murder.

                As another by the way, is there anywhere on earth a war that is not a result of religious squabbles?

                But enough of this. I would not wish to offend any of our readers.

                JE comments: Norman Tutorow (great to hear from you, by the way) tells it like he sees it. I believe Norman is asking us to question the authority of the icons of all the world's religions, given that their track record over the last 4000 years has not been stellar. Is this an appeal for the best traditions of secular humanism? Of course, secular law is based on at least three of Moses's commandments (don't murder, don't steal, don't commit perjury...coveting is something else, as it's more or less the point of consumer capitalism).

                For those who may dismiss Norman Tutorow's post as unmeasured blasphemy, be aware that he has devoted many years to the study of religion. See his massive historical novel on Jesus's life, the Autobiography of Jesus (2008).

                Let the comments begin.

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                • Moses and "Thou Shalt Not Kill" (Alain de Benoist, France 09/19/11 4:48 PM)
                  Norman Tutorow (19 September) wrote: "In response to Robert Whealey's thoughts on Moses (17 September), if an ancient Egyptian-Hebrew-proto-Jew commands his audience not to commit murder, why should this piece of advice be thought to apply to anyone outside his sphere of influence?"

                  A more interesting question would be this: if Moses commanded his audience not to commit murder, how is it that he was the first to violate this precept, not "outside of his sphere of influence," but even inside his sphere of influence, against his own people?

                  According the Bible, when Moses came back from the Sinai with the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), one of the first things he did was to order the massacre of 3,000 people among the Hebrews.

                  Reference: Exodus 32:25-29 (32:27: "kill your brother, kill your friend, kill your neighbor").

                  JE comments: Definitely not brotherly or neighborly love.

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                • on Adultery (David Duggan, USA 09/20/11 4:47 AM)
                  In response to Norman Tutorow (19 September), Illinois still has on its books a statute against adultery. Query how that will play out now that Illinois has authorized "civil unions."

                  JE comments: If civil unions are legally tantamount to marriage (re: benefits, inheritance and the like), I suppose that unfaithful partners of any sexual orientation can be guilty of adultery. Michigan has a "one woman, one man" law defining marriage, and the maximum sentence for adultery is life in prison. I'd better behave myself.


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                  • Adultery and Civil Unions (David Duggan, USA 09/22/11 4:25 AM)
                    I was being only moderately tongue-in-cheek as to how "adultery" will be defined in respect of the dissolution of a civil union (see my earlier post of 20 September).

                    Illinois criminal law defines adultery as requiring "sexual intercourse with another not his or her spouse..." Sexual intercourse should be assumed to be different from (i.e., more restrictive than) "sexual penetration," which is the conduct proscribed under other criminal statutes, and includes a list of orifices not repeatable in polite company. That "adultery" requires man-on-woman intercourse was decided in People v. Martin, a 1913 case in the Illinois Appellate Court which overturned a conviction of one J.W. Martin because there was no proof that J.W. was a man and the court refused to assume it; a woman-on-woman tryst was OK under the law. But in the Illinois Civil Union Law (which allows for civil unions of both same- or opposite-gendered partners), 750 ILCS 75/10 et seq., it states that "the provisions of Sections 401 through 413 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act shall apply to the dissolution of a civil union" (Section 75/45). Section 401(1) of the IMDMA states among the grounds: "the respondent had committed adultery subsequent to the marriage." Hence, if in the course of a same-gender civil union, one of the male partners strays with a female, then that would be grounds for the dissolution of the union, but if he strayed with a male, that would not.

                    It might be reasonably wondered whether this is what was intended.

                    JE comments: A very interesting legal question. But how many divorces/dissolutions are granted these days in the US on the grounds of adultery? Usually it's because the partners can no longer stand each other--the omnibus "irreconcilable differences" category.

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          • Supreme Court and "Representationality" (David Pike, France 09/19/11 6:36 AM)
            Edward Jajko wrote on 16 September: "It is high time that Catholicism... be accorded its due ‘representation' on the Supreme Court."

            The Supreme Court and "It is high time... " struck a chord. When Richard Nixon was proposing Harrold Carswell for a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska defended him with a memorable comment: "There's a lot of mediocrity running around. It is high time that mediocrity got a little representation."

            No other parallel is intended.

            JE comments: I've been thinking a lot about this. Religion is just one of the factors where the Supreme Court is not representative of the general population.  For starters, how about the uneducated? The poor?

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            • Supreme Court and "Representationality" (Alain de Benoist, France 09/20/11 7:41 AM)
              John Eipper, commenting the posts of Edward Jajko and David Pike (19 September), wrote: "Religion is just one of the factors where the Supreme Court is not representative of the general population."

              I do not really understand why the judges of the US Supreme Court should be "representative" of anything.

              They do not have any democratic legitimacy, as they are not elected to occupy their function. They are supposed to have been chosen for their authority and for expressing good judgments and opinions, not to express any kind of "representation."

              If religions have to be "represented" in the Supreme Court, what about other kind of "representations"? Socio-economic status? Sex? Ethnicity? What about Polish, Irish, Arabs, Blacks on the Supreme Court? Should handicapped sado-maso lesbian transexuals be "represented"? Part of the US population is made up of idiots. Should they be "represented" too?

              JE comments: Yes, the "representationality" argument can be carried on ad infinitum.  How about an illiterate Justice?  "Writing for the dissent, Justice McCoy wrote, well, nothing, but s/he signed it with an X."



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              • Supreme Court and "Representationality" (Randy Black, USA 09/21/11 2:24 AM)
                Alain de Benoist's 20 September post about representation on the US Supreme Court is spot on. Alain stated factually that there is a deficit of handicapped sado-maso lesbian transsexuals on the Court. I agree. Moreover, there are no Justices who are citizens of the Chickasaw Nation, nor named Randy, nor from Texas. This is a scandal!

                Additionally, of the past 20 appointees, only six were not Damn Yankees. There have been several Justices with really interesting names. Bushrod Washington, one of the first Phi Beta Kappas, 1762-1829, was appointed under John Adams in 1798. Bushrod initially became a Justice as a "recess appointment." He also owned and sold slaves.

                Another interesting name for a Justice is Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, 1825-1893. Justice Lamar, named after ancient Roman consul and dictator Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, was a nephew of the future president of the Republic of Texas. Hook ‘em Horns.

                Prior to becoming a Justice, Lamar was a mathematics professor and legal scholar at the University of Mississippi before establishing a cotton plantation. Lamar served as Minister to Russia during the Confederacy.

                Other "interesting" names for politicians include "Young Boozer," who ran for State Treasurer in Alabama, Ryan Fattman, candidate for State Representative in Maine, Krystall Ball, a candidate for Congress in Virginia, Frank Schmuck, a candidate for the Arizona state legislature, and Tim Shotwell, who won his race for county sheriff in Washington State.

                JE comments: The Lamar family had a flair for names. The Texas president, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus's uncle, was Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar.  I wonder:  was LQC Lamar the only former Confederate to make it to the US Supreme Court?

                One given (first) name that has clearly fallen out of favor with new moms and dads:  Bushrod.

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  • Citizens United Case and SAVE our Industries Act (Bienvenido Macario, USA 09/13/11 5:22 AM)
    Tor Guimaraes wrote on 12 September:

    "The Citizens United case has profound implications for US democracy. I cannot understand how any Supreme Court or member of Congress can justify this blatant disregard for democracy. Are so many Republicans going insane? Can anyone explain this?"

    JE's comments answered the last two questions. The YouTube video forwarded by Tor Guimaraes was dated August 21, 2010. Today, Pres. Obama is under pressure to create jobs.

    There is a bill pending before the US Congress called the "SAVE Our Industries Act" (S.1244/H.R. 2387). There is a tax-free provision in this bill and it is projected to create tens of thousands of jobs.

    SAVE Act Co-sponsors

    Senate bill number: S. 1244


    Lead Sponsors:

    Senator Daniel Inouye (D - HI)

    Senator Roy Blunt (R - MO)

    Other Sponsors:

    Senator Daniel Akaka (D - HI) and

    Senator Harry Reid (D - NV)

    House bill number: H.R. 2387

    Lead Sponsor: Congressman Jim McDermott (D- WA 7th District)

    Other Sponsors:

    Congressman Steve Austria (R- OH 7th District)

    Congressman Brian Bilbray (R - CA 50th)

    Congressman Bob Filner (D - CA 51st)

    Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D - HI 2nd)

    Congressman Gregorio Sablan (D - Northern Mariana Non-voting)

    The major problem with this bill is that it will not save US industries but those in the Philippines! The tens of thousands of jobs will be created in the Philippines, not in the US.

    The tax break comes in form of duty-free importations of textiles manufactured in the Philippines from US materials.

    How could the US Congress even call it "Save Our Industries Act" when it will clearly benefit the Philippines where the total net worth of the forty richest men equals California's budget deficit?

    There are three GOP sponsors of this bill including one US Senator. But what are all these congressmen and US Senators thinking?

    I believe this the product of Sen. Inouye's trip to the Philippines as discussed in my posting from April 29, 2011:


    JE comments: SAVE our Industries does include a strange use of the possessive adjective, but the intent is to preserve US jobs in the textile sector through a bilateral agreement with the Philippines. The advocacy website linked above contains an appeal in support by Manny Pacquiao--is there anything Manny doesn't or cannot do? Won't he become President some day? (I'm talking about the Philippines, although with a constitutional change Manny could probably win election to the US presidency as well.) It was like that back in my school days--the best and baddest fighter was always the most popular kid.  I'd be interested in Bienvenido Macario's thoughts.

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    • Manny Pacquiao (Bienvenido Macario, USA 09/14/11 1:54 AM)
      This is an update on Manny Pacquiao (see JE's comments to my post of 13 September). He is an incumbent Congressman representing Sarangani, a district in Mindanao island where Muslim insurgents are seeking to create an Islamic state and terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda and Jemma Islamiya are reportedly hiding on the Western side of the island.


      Manny Pacquiao eyes vice presidency in 2016 polls



      Amid a warm welcome in Mexico during his world press tour with opponent Juan Manuel Marquez, Filipino boxing icon and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao said he is eyeing the vice presidency in the 2016 elections.

      "Come 2016 I am going to run (for) vice president... No more boxing at that time," Pacquiao said in an interview aired Friday on dzBB.

      But the chairman of the Commission on Elections threw a reality check on Pacquiao's hopes of a VP run less than five years from now. Chairman Sixto Brillantes said Friday that the champion boxer does not meet the age qualification.

      "Baka naman nagbibiro lang siya. (Maybe he just joking.) He can't run for either Vice President or President by 2016," Brillantes said in a phone interview Friday.

      JE comments:  One must be 40 or older to serve as President of the Philippines.  I presume the requirement is the same for Vice President, given the possibility of succession.  Manny Pacquiao is presently 32, and will be 36-37 in 2016.  So he may have to sit in a neutral corner for this (election) round.

      According to our old friend Wikipedia, the minimum age requirements for the presidency of most nations varies between 30 and 40, with 35 (the US minimum) being perhaps the most common.  France sets the age at a tender 23--too young to rent a car, but not to run a country.

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  • Citizens United Case (David Duggan, USA 09/13/11 5:54 AM)
    When commenting Tor Guimaraes's post of 12 September, JE wrote:

    "Citizens United strikes me as one of the most unfair SCOTUS decisions since Dred Scott."

    Worse than Plessy v. Ferguson (the "separate but equal" case), Yamashita (the Japanese internment case), Gregg v. Georgia (the case upholding the death penalty after it had previously been ruled unconstitutional), Bowers v. Hardwick (which upheld state sodomy laws against privacy claims, later overruled in Lawrence v. Texas)? Hmm.

    JE comments: Yes, there have been some bad ones, but note my weasel-word describing CU as "one of the most unfair [Supreme Court] decisions." Now that I've gotten out my italics machine, I must apologize to David Duggan and other WAISer JDs for neglecting, until now, to properly cite the Citizens United case.

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    • Citizens United Case (David A. Westbrook, USA 09/13/11 4:32 PM)
      Citizen's United is a truly awful case, but I don't think "fairness" (see JE, 12 September) is the right criterion of judgment here. No particular group gets its ox gored, unlike many of the cases mentioned by David Duggan. And although the case "tilts" to the right, as Cameron Sawyer points out, the ACLU, generally thought of as liberal, supported CU. And some "left" groups, like unions, are likely to benefit--and the left will have no choice but to take advantage of the Court's remapping (destruction) of election law.

      To simplify, CU is horrible both as a measure of craft (how it handles statute, precedent, and the Constitutional authority) and as matter of substantive outcomes.

      You have to read the case, and probably have to be a lawyer, and maybe have to have at least clerked (drafted opinions) for this to be an emotional issue, but the level of craftsmanship in the CU opinion is simply an embarrassment. Here's the problem, from the perspective of legal craft, i.e., quite apart from whether one is pleased by how the case was resolved.

      In Citizen's United, the Court strikes down two recent precedents of its own, and a law passed with bipartisan support (McCain-Feingold), after a hundred years of regulation. The Court strikes down a great deal of recent law as facially unconstitutional (not as applied), and does so after the plaintiffs had abandoned the argument. So the Roberts Supreme Court is saying that the Supreme Court itself, and the Congress, don't understand what the Constitution requires. It's a stunningly bold claim, for which the Opinion offers very little support. It's simply a party-line vote, and the lead dissent (Stevens, in his last opinion) is scathing along these lines. I actually think that the opinion, along with Bush v. Gore, has damaged the status of the institution.

      It's been a while since I've read, for example, Plessy v Ferguson (the case struck down, over half a century later, by Brown v. Board of Education), but as a matter of judicial craft I think CU is worse than most and perhaps all of the cases David Duggan lists. Let me note that Gregg is still good law, and the death penalty had not been ruled unconstitutional per se (as would be odd, considering its deep constitutional roots). Both Bowers and Lawrence are fought over the weak reed of privacy (like Roe) . . . CU, in contrast, is at the very core of the Constitutional tradition, political free speech.

      Turning from craft to substance, there is a great deal to say--and a great deal has been said. While I cannot begin to recapitulate the arguments, I think the reason the legal academy has become so exercised is not because money matters in politics (that's not new), but because the Court suggests a fundamental rethinking of what we mean by politics. In a forthcoming article, I maintain that the US (including the Supreme Court) has understood the republic to rest on a dynamic interplay between related, but distinct realms--law, electoral politics, and commercial markets. I call this a commercial republic, and it is very traditional.

      The imaginary, to use an anthropological word, employed by the Court is very different, a caricature of the citizen/state theory familiar from social contract (Hobbes and since). In this view, the government has the power to rule, subject to periodic elections. The people elect, thereby forming government. The one thing the government cannot do is govern how people speak--that is, spend money--in elections. Thus there can be no real legal restraint on the spending of money in elections. By extension, elections are about the representation (in the political and linguistic sense) of economic life--oligarchy.

      This poses obvious problems for democracy, understood as government by the people (not just the rich people). Less obviously, the CU decision poses considerable problems for our political economy, which aims for markets that are fair and competitive. That is, our business law presumes that government operates at some distance from market actors, and treats actors in the marketplace on a principled basis. But under the CU decision, marketplace actors are understood to be political supporters. Bluntly, too bluntly, put: you have to hire a lobbyist, and otherwise support your candidates, because your competition will. That is, CU encourages a courtier economy, and virtually requires what the economists call rent seeking legislation . . . the economic expression of the problem we've usually confronted as a matter of democratic politics. The Court, bizarrely and without any evidence, denies that this creates an appearance of corruption.

      To sum up, the opinion is not particularly unfair, but it is a disaster both for the Supreme Court's professional reputation and for conservatives in the almost forgotten sense of those with a respect for tradition. Which raises, I think, a rather stark choice for intellectuals. Either we figure out ways to recover our republican sensibilities, or we begin thinking about what political virtue under current conditions might look like--but we have no language for, and considerable Constitutional problems with, aristocracy.

      As I mentioned, all of this should be coming out in a law review article in the next months. It's professional and therefore boring, of course, but I'll try to remember to send the citation to WAIS in due course.

      JE comments:  Look forward to it.  David Westbrook raises the question of political virtue.  WAISer thoughts?  Is such a thing possible--let's try to limit our cynicism--in today's climate?

      As a sidebar, has John McCain said anything about the Citizens United decision?

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