The Public Cannot Trust a Government Purchased by Corporations

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The United States Constitution outlines specific protections for the people of the United States. Among these is the protected right of free speech, outlined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. At the time of the drafting of the Constitution the notion of “corporate personhood” had not yet been undertaken by the legislature or the Supreme Court, and as such no one rightly applied this critical protection of speech to the loosely organized industrial industries that existed in the early United States. The idea of corporate personhood originated in the Supreme Court decision of Santa Clara County v. the Southern Pacific Railroad (1886). In the written decision a statement alleging the existence of corporate personhood was inserted into the casebook headnote by court reporter John Chandler Bancroft Davis. The deciding opinions of the court justices use no such language, but the idea became precedent regardless due to Davis’s language1. Following the establishment of precedent in regards to corporate personhood, it was only a matter of time before arguments over speech and applicable protections under the Constitution would be brought forward to the legislature and the Supreme Court. At the time of corporate personhood “birth” in 1886 and the years that followed, the idea of “free speech” had hardly undergone the rigors that it would sustain in the following 100 years. In fact, since the adoption of the First Amendment in 1791, the only real challenges the Amendment had faced was in reference to speech directed against the government, which formed the basis for modern defamation and sedition laws. However, the turn of the 20th century brought many new innovations, other than corporate personhood. The late 1800s and early 19... ... middle of paper ... ...o trust a government that is in essence paid for by corporate interests? It cannot. Trust in the rule of law is one of the primary tenets of legitimacy. If the highest court in the land is making rulings in favor of corporate interests, in direct contradiction to the traditions and opinions of the people they represent, how can the judiciary be trusted to take on any other issue? It cannot. It is in light of these deductions, made in part through the analysis of the Citizens United ruling that I assert that the ruling, and its far reach implications, directly challenges the legitimacy of the United States elective process, and thusly directly challenges the legitimacy of it as a democratic institution as a whole. Works Cited Marcus Ethridge and Howard Handelman. Politics in a Changing World: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science. Thomson/Wadsworth.

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