Robert Reich is such a card, isn’t he?

The executives who run these banks aren’t going to jail, either. Apologists say it’s not fair to jail bank executives because they don’t know what their rogue traders are up to.

Yet ex-convicts often suffer consequences beyond jail terms.

In many states they lose their right to vote. They can’t run for office or otherwise participate in the political process.

So why not take away the right of these convicted banks to participate in the political process, at least for some years? That would stop JPMorgan’s Dimon from lobbying Congress to roll back the Dodd-Frank act, as he’s been doing almost non-stop.

Why not also take away their right to pour money into politics? Wall Street banks have been among the biggest contributors to political campaigns. If they’re convicted of a felony, they should be barred from making any political contributions for at least ten years.

He doesn’t seem to understand the law either.

So, why is it that companies are allowed to contribute to political campaigns? Because contributing to a political campaign is political speech, and as such is something that has First Amendment protections. And it’s one of those protections that extends to legal persons as well as natural persons.

So, do felons lose their free speech rights?

Nope, they don’t. So, what Reich is now suggesting is something that simply cannot happen. As such, the perfect campaigning tool in fact. Demand something impossible and you can gin up the rabble forever.

25 thoughts on “Robert Reich is such a card, isn’t he?”

  1. “And it’s one of those protections that extends to legal persons as well as natural persons.” So said SCOTUS, I gather; but to me that sounds like another of the judicial putsches by which the US is increasingly governed. Is there any intellectually serious reason to believe that that’s what the Constitution says? It sounds like another Wade-Roe to me i.e. just invented by judges doing what they want to and pretending to find justification in the Constitution.

  2. Wall Street banks have been among the biggest contributors to political campaigns.

    Whereas the wife of either Frank or Dodd was one of the contributors to the Frank-Dodd act, getting her husband to slide in a clause which would benefit her personally.

    But yes, banks’ contributions to political campaigns is really the problem, oh yes.

  3. Any piece of legislation sponsored by Barney Frank will be a piece of shit anyway.

    The guy’s a fucking moron.

  4. “That would stop JPMorgan’s Dimon from lobbying Congress to roll back the Dodd-Frank act, as he’s been doing almost non-stop.”

    If Congress quit fucking with the banks, lobbying would end instantly (but who would pay for Congresspersons’ lunch?). Lobbying is a natural reaction to government intervention. Fascism begets lobbying.

  5. Well there is another way of looking at this:
    Where does all the large amounts of lobbying money come from? The banks’ customers. Do the banks’ customers get a choice on whether they want to use the banking system? No they don’t. Thanks to previous regulation, thanks to previous rounds of bank lobbying. It’s the only banking system they’ve got. And are the people run the banking system, doing the lobbying, lobbying on behalf of the users of the system? if you believe that one…

  6. Philip Scott Thomas

    Because contributing to a political campaign is political speech, and as such is something that has First Amendment protections.

    Indeed. It is literally putting your money where your mouth is.

    The same applies, btw, to limits on campaign contrubutions.

  7. There are other ways to clamp down on corporate campaign contributions, if that’s the desired outcome. For example public companies could be required to put campaign contributions to a shareholder vote. That might not survive a test by the supreme court, but it’d clog up the works for a few years at least.

  8. why is it that companies are allowed to contribute to political campaigns?
    Corporations are not allowed to contribute to federal political campaigns.

    Wall Street banks have been among the biggest contributors to political campaigns.
    He means Wall Street bankers. What the banks can do is run PACs for their employees to donate to.

    …contributing to a political campaign is political speech, and as such is something that has First Amendment protections…
    Up to a point. SCOTUS has upheld various restrictions on campaign donations. It’s much less relaxed about restrictions on political advocacy independent of a campaign.

    Is there any intellectually serious reason to believe that that’s what the Constitution says?
    SCOTUS opinions here. Stephens is good:

    At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

    …the wife of either Frank or Dodd was one of the contributors to the Frank-Dodd act…
    Not Frank; he’s married to a man.

    … getting her husband to slide in a clause which would benefit her personally.
    Mrs Dodd was a director of CME, and Frank-Dodd includes provisions to encourage exchange-trading of derivatives.

  9. “Because contributing to a political campaign is political speech”: not by any definition of speech that you’d find in a dictionary. Sheer bloody judicial bollocks.

  10. @dearieme: if the money is being spent on ad space, leaflets, bumper stickers, etc. then it’s quite clearly a form of speech.

  11. “need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding”

    Yeah, you corporations should just take it and STFU.

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Dave: “Can we start calling him Thousand Year Reich yet?”
    Not only can we, it is incumbent upon us to do so. I am only peeved I didn’t come up with this myself.

  13. What the Constitution says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    Citizens United, the case that the left has their panties in a wad about, had nothing to do with corporate contributions to political campaigns. It had to do with the Federal Elections Commission banning the release of a movie critical of Hillary Clinton.

  14. Citizens United, the case that the left has their panties in a wad about, had nothing to do with corporate contributions to political campaigns. It had to do with the Federal Elections Commission banning the release of a movie critical of Hillary Clinton.

    Whatever the state of the left’s underwear, the thundering dissent was written by Justice Stevens, a Republican nominated by Gerald Ford.

    The decision in Citizens United was to strike down the part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (as the name suggests, not a leftist measure) which prohibited corporations from paying for election broadcasts. BCRA did not of course ban the release of the Hillary movie: it banned corporations from paying to have it shown within 30 days of the primary election she was standing in.

  15. Thundering dissent, heh. He basically just said it was “common sense” and Teddy Roosevelt would have wanted it that way, which doesn’t do much for me.

    BCRA did not of course ban the release of the Hillary movie: it banned corporations from paying to have it shown within 30 days of the primary election she was standing in.

    OK, here we’re getting close to the nub the issue. The Constitution says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Does a law preventing corporations from releasing political movies in the runup to an election abridge freedom of speech? I would say that it does.

  16. Bloke in Costa Rica

    It doesn’t matter if the movie’s release itself was unaffected. The court found that if McCain-Feingold prevented interested parties from showing the movie then too bad for McCain-Feingold.

  17. Does a law preventing corporations from releasing political movies in the runup to an election abridge freedom of speech? I would say that it does.

    I agree (except that ‘releasing’ is the wrong word). But the Court has accepted minor abridgements of freedom of speech when there’s a sufficient public interest. Here, I think there’s a very powerful public interest in for-profit corporations not being able to threaten uncooperative politicians with the broadcast of hostile propaganda next time they run for election.

  18. Well, what you call “threatening uncooperative politicians with the broadcast of hostile propaganda” others call “expressing an opinion”. And the issue with this type of legislation is that someone in the government has to separate the nasty propaganda from the legitimate opinions, and I don’t trust them to do that.

  19. “if the money is being spent on ad space, leaflets, bumper stickers, etc. then it’s quite clearly a form of speech”: and again I cry “bollocks”. In the US, freedom of speech means that the Union can’t censor what you say on your leaflets, it goes no further. The Constitution is unambiguous: if a power is not explicitly given to the Union, it doesn’t have it. Moreover, your argument still has no bearing on the decision that the freedom accorded to people is automatically to be extended to bodies corporate; it ain’t in the Constitution, so it’s just invented.

  20. “Well, what you call “threatening uncooperative politicians with the broadcast of hostile propaganda” others call “expressing an opinion”. ”

    Yet others call it “the Mainstream Media.”

  21. “It had to do with the Federal Elections Commission banning the release of a movie critical of Hillary Clinton.” Doesn’t sound like a freedom of speech issue to me; sounds as if SCOTUS decided that’s lousy behaviour by the Commission and then searched desperately for some pretext that could be used to declare it unconstitutional. Just like Wade-Roe, as I said earlier, where the ludicrous pretext was an invented right to privacy, of which there is narry a mention in the Constitution.

    The job of SCOTUS is not to say “This seems to us objectionable to the customs of the USA and the spirit of the Constitution”: but it’s what the buggers do, again and again.

    I’m baffled why anyone should even want to claim it’s a freedom of speech issue, when it could easily be phrased as a freedom of the press issue, which would still stop the Commission’s misbehaviour, and without need to make any bogus claim about legal persons having the same rights as natural persons.

  22. “Moreover, your argument still has no bearing on the decision that the freedom accorded to people is automatically to be extended to bodies corporate; it ain’t in the Constitution, so it’s just invented.”

    The First Amendment is simply a restriction on what laws Congress cannot pass. I.e., anything abridging the freedom of speech. If they wanted it to only protect individual free speech but not free speech for groups of people, they could have said that. But didn’t.

  23. “If they wanted it to only protect individual free speech but not free speech for groups of people, they could have said that.” Indeed. But free speech for a group of people is just individual free speech for each of them, so it’s covered automatically. That has no bearing on whether to extend free speech to legal fictions (“legal persons”). There is, moreover, no need for the rubbishy free speech claim, since the ‘no law abridging the freedom of the press’ covers the case nicely.

    It sounds to me as if SCOTUS were up to mischief. Just like Wade-Roe.

  24. It had to do with the Federal Elections Commission banning the release of a movie critical of Hillary Clinton

    But it didn’t. Citizens United made and released a movie presenting various scandals associated with Hillary Clinton, with the aim of persuading people not to vote for her. It wanted to televise the movie, and adverts for it, in the run-up to the Primaries, and to pay for that out of its corporate funds, and not to have to disclose to viewers that it was behind the movie. That would be illegal under the terms of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. So CU sought a court injunction to stop the FEC enforcing the law, the FEC defended the case, as is its legal duty, and the court ruled to uphold the BCRA, in line with Supreme Court precedent. Then CU took the case to the Supreme Court, and that court voted 5-4 to overturn its own precedents.

    The SCOTUS majority did however uphold as constitutional the BCRA disclosure provisions, despite agreeing that they “may burden the ability to speak” – the First Amendment does not trump all other considerations.

    The reality is that the US Constitution can be interpreted for or against all sorts of things, depending on the leanings of the Justices. So it does make sense, as Stevens suggested, to decide the case on the basis of whether the US would benefit from more or less corporate money in politics. The vote went 5-4 in favour of more corporate money.

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