This, written by Glenn Greenwald at Salon,
But the speech restrictions struck down by Citizens United do not only apply to Exxon and Halliburton; they also apply to non-profit advocacy corporations, such as, say, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, as well as labor unions, which are genuinely burdened in their ability to express their views by these laws.
essentially translates as “We have a strange set-up where completely different things are nonetheless given the same legal label.” The conclusion which Greenwald suggests (though he expresses misgivings) is the same which the Supreme Court recently arrived at: that the First Amendment makes unconstitutional restrictions on the use of money by corporations for political purposes.
The flaw is obvious. That the ACLU and Exxon are legally labeled the same thing is not an immutable and natural feature of the legal system. It’s a choice, and like all choices, one that could be changed. “Corporation” is not some inherent label that has been handed down with the Commandments, and figuring out a way to separate those groups created specifically to put forward a political agenda and those pushing a political agenda to serve their larger money-earning purpose should be the goal, rather than simply handing General Electric the (financial) keys to the electoral process.
P.S. And not to pick on Greenwald, but this, from an earlier part of the column:
My skepticism is due to one principal fact: I really don’t see how things can get much worse in that regard. The reality is that our political institutions are already completely beholden to and controlled by large corporate interests (Dick Durbin: “banks own” the Congress). Corporations find endless ways to circumvent current restrictions — their armies of PACs, lobbyists, media control, and revolving-door rewards flood Washington and currently ensure their stranglehold — and while this decision will make things marginally worse, I can’t imagine how it could worsen fundamentally.
shows a grievous ignorance of most of 19th century American history.
P.P.S. And, really, just because I can: these seem appropriate to the situation.