Marc Elliot Hall's Blog


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Welcome to Marc's Weblog

— also known as my vanity gripe page

From sunny, Las Vegas, Nevada, this is the blog of Marc Elliot Hall, leader and system engineer extraordinaire.

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Mon, 27 Jan 2014

Network Neutrality Setback

Network Neutrality is an issue that I've been following for a long time.

The premise of Network Neutrality is that ISPs (like Cox, Comcast, and AT&T) should prioritize protocols (web traffic before email or DNS lookups before bit torrent) and regulate bandwidth hogs on their networks however they feel appropriate for their business. However, they shouldn't be allowed to prioritize content providers (Netflix over YouTube, hallmarc.net over Facebook), or their own content over their competitors'.

Recently, a federal appeals court ruled that the FCC's Network Neutrality regulations were invalid because the FCC has not chosen to classify broadband Internet access the same way it classifies your home phone — as a telecommunications service with equal access to all. If the FCC reclassifies Internet access, Network Neutrality will be restored.

Although you may not particularly admire the ACLU, I urge you to sign their petition in support of restoration of Net Neutrality.

If you are unsure about whether to take my word for it, or have questions about the implications for society at large, please refer to these resources for more information:

As always, I am happy to answer any other questions you might have.

Thank you! I appreciate your thoughtful consideration.

posted at: 12:13 |

Mon, 08 Feb 2010

Money is Speech?

The Free Speech Rights of Corporations

In late January, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have a right to free speech and that limiting their ability to spend money to publish political opinions is an infringement of that right.

The Supreme Court is divided on this issue, with a “conservative” majority of five overruling the other four justices. The five also are the youngest and (mostly) newest members of the high court. One result of this is that none of them are likely to die or retire any time soon. My expectation is that this decision, then, will stand for at least a decade and possibly much, much longer.

Despite the clearly superior legal and scholarly credentials of the majority justices, I believe they have missed three critical issues in making their ruling:

  1. Corporations are not “natural people”, whatever Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad says. Rather, they are groups of people operating in aggregate for a common goal. The legal organization is simply a shield that prevents any individual investor from sufering a liability larger than his or her investment in the corporation. Individuals within the larger group are free, as always, to voice their opinions however they wish. Further, corporations are for all intents and purposes immortal; they can act on strategies that may take multiple human generations to execute (although, it seems, they frequently are unable to see past the next quarter’s financial results).
  2. Regardless of one’s view on coporate personhood, the right to free speech does not include a guarantee to individuals of a right to an audience. Moreover, governments are empowered, both morally and legally, to prevent speech that infringes on the public’s right to be left alone. For example, noise ordinances may prohibit amplified music from public areas, and proselytizers may be prevented from trespassing to deliver their messages.
  3. Money is not speech. Money is property, symbolically representing economic value. As such, Congress has the power to regulate it under the Commerce Clause. Although Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are entitled to Life and Liberty, all but the final draft (which uses the word “happiness” instead) only specified the “pursuit of property.” Pursuit, meaning a striving for, a searching for, a chase after. Not the posession of. True, the Declaration of Independence does not have the force of law; however, it is a founding document explicitly stating the principles upon which this nation was — and is — established.

The media have been in a frenzy about this decision ever since, each outlet with its own slant.

For example, Michael C. Dorf writes in Findlaw that the chief impact of the Court’s decision will be a perception that the Court itself has been corrupted.

Meanwhile, Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres of the Washington Post believe that Congress will still be able to regulate campaign finance.

However, other organizations are not so sanguine. The New York Sun reports that the ACLU may flip-flop on regulation of campaign spending limits.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart apparently believes that this decision will be disasterous.

National Public Radio reports that President Obama and the Democratic Party are very unhappy about the decision.

In all, then, this decision appears to represent a watershed moment, when the current way of funding campaigns will be entirely restructured. Time will tell.

Related Links

The Supreme Court Rejects a Limit on Corporate-Funded Campaign Speech

Despite court ruling, Congress can still limit campaign finance

A Quest to End Spending Rules for Campaigns

A bold conservative step by Supreme Court

ACLU May Reverse Course On Campaign Finance Limits After Supreme Court Ruling

Jon Stewart slams recent Supreme Court ruling giving corporations free speech rights

Court Ignores Precedent, Creates Corporate Monster

Supreme Court Lifts Campaign Spending Limits

Campaign Finance Ruling: Hard To Reverse

Democrats Follow Obama’s Lead On Finance Ruling

Supreme Court Left Donor Disclosure Rules Intact

posted at: 16:02 |

Marc Elliot Hall St. Peters, Missouri 

Page created: 21 January 2002
Page modified: 09 December 2017

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