THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 561, March 14, 2010
"The state is death."
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
There are many sins to be laid at the figurative feet of the 14th Amendment. At best it is a reinforcement of the Supremacy Clause (as applied to the Bill of Rights) and the Privileges and Immunities and Full Faith and Credit Clauses. Somewhat neutrally it transfers the power to define citizenship and citizens' right from the states to the central government. I say somewhat neutrally only in comparison to the language it contains punishing the Southern States for exercising their right to secession ( as was taught even in West Point to men who were expected to make a career of defending the Constitution and the rights it guaranteed) and losing the War of Yankee Aggression. The method used to gain Southern States' votes to ratify it when insufficient Unionist States did so and the reliance on Southern votes when according to the Radical Republicans the Former Confederate States were conquered occupied territory, not states, and thus arguably ineligible to vote on amending the Constitution is just icing on a cake of injustice.
"By their fruit shall you know them." or at least their first fruit. The 14th amendment was diverted from its original purpose of guaranteeing the civil rights and liberties of Black Americans and applied to guarantee the personhood of corporations and their rights as such. This led to the decision earlier this year that laws and bureaucratic regulation denying corporate free speech by limiting corporate buying of air time to exercise free speech is unconstitutional. The left has been howling bloody murder ever since. They claim that the deep pockets of corporate donors will overwhelm the airwaves and the corporations will buy the voters souls, or something like that.
While I see where they are coming from I have to call my left wing buddies on this one. Until and unless corporations are stripped of their status as persons under the law by Constitutional Amendment or by very carefully worded Court decision we are stuck with protecting their rights. This is because unless the laws/executive orders/regulations/ court rulings involved are extremely carefully worded and restricted they will set the precedent that some persons may be stripped of their personhood. It means that persons may be stripped of at least some of their rights, not as a punishment and consequence of violating the rights of others as determined in a fair trial, but "just because."
Also we must consider that corporations are run by human managers for the profit of human owners. Presumably this means using the corporations' resources in a manner that meets the interests of the managers and owners, which includes using corporate money to buy time to present political messages. Arguably, restricting corporate spending unjustly restricts the owners' political voice.
The left has nobly done much to help enfranchise the poor. But if it's wrong to disenfranchise people for being poor, isn't it just as wrong to disenfranchise people for being rich?
Indubitably corporations have too much power and need to be reigned in. However, doing so in a way that violates the rights of the owners and sets a precedent to strip the rest of us of our rights isn't the way to solve this problem.