Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010)

January 21, 2010: Charles Schumer and I agree on this and this alone: the decision today to (effectively) reverse McCain-Feingold, and turn back the clock one century on corporation and union spending is a disaster. Where in the Constitution does it say corporations and unions have First Amendment RIghts? It doesn't. In fact corporations and labor unions did not exist when this country was formed and the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. 

Corporations were an artificial entity created by THE SUPREME COURT in 1819, granting a private charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. The Corporation as a whole was labeled an "artificial person," mainly to protect shareholders from personal liabilities incurred collectively by the company as a whole, and to define the rights of investors in a business. Corporations enjoy special privileges conferred by the Constitution (or so John Marshall says) for which regular persons do not qualify. 

Fine. But you can't have your cake and eat it too. Corporations and Unions are made up of people. Those people are not restricted by campaign financing laws. So, does McCain/Feingold violate the rights of the shareholders of the corporation or union? I say no. The Supreme Court (5/4) says yes. Let's examine: McCain/Feingold in no way restricts corporate officers or shareholders, nor union officials or rank-and-file members from making personal donations to candidates or parties, or from participating in campaigns for any candidate. 

Jan 22: Rush Limbaugh says (paraphrased): When asked by Justice Alito whether McCain/Feingold would incur the banning of a book 60 days prior to an election, the Justice Dept. official replied "yes." Whereupon Justice Alito went ballistic, reminding me of the days when I owned a chain of bookstores. One day the local magazine distributor in Kalamazoo told me that he had received a call from an irate customer complaining that my stores carried a rack full of the publication, "Mother Earth News." Get it ? Muthaa.

If the moron had bothered to look closer, he might have observed that "Mother Earth News" is an organic farming magazine.

My response is not printable on these pages.

Words have meaning, and unfortunately words have meaning for the ignorant as well. Which brings me to the Alito tantrum: The issue before the court involved a 'documentary' entitled "Hillary: The Movie." a slam piece produced by a conservative group , Citizens United during the 2008 Democratic primaries. The FEC ruled  that the movie violated the McCain/Feingold prohibition against  showing such stuff and it was pulled from TV. "Hillary: The Movie" was pure propaganda , and it was banned by McCain/Feingold. even if every word of it was accurate. 

As for the book censoring question proffered to the government witness: he was mistaken in his answer. If you or I write a book bad-mouthing a candidate that is published just before an election, it wouldn't be banned. If a corporation like, say, Citizens United, puts out the book, it can be banned. 

People write books, corporations write pamphlets, manuals, directives, advertising, propaganda, but not books. Book censorship has such a nice ring doesn't it, Justice Alito? Like Muthaaa.

Postscript: On the other hand, with my radical pro-business stance, errant constitutional decision notwithstanding, I certainly would be the candidate to benefit from corporate contributions, desu ne?
Letter to the Editor: Fort Myers News-Press

Re: Campaign Law to Get High Court Review (Sept 8, 2009).

Corporation and Union contributions influence policymaking and legislation that is for their own benefit but usually is detrimental to the best interests of the American People. E.g.: Under the “No Child Left Behind Act” minority students in Washington D.C. received subsidies from the government that provided them an opportunity for a better education by attending private schools. Indebted to the teachers’ unions, Barack Obama attempted to rescind these subsidies, thus forcing those same students back into the atrocious D.C. public school system.

Now, those groups who support the McCain-Feingold law believe that changing the law (back) would “undermine the country’s democracy” thus pitting them against “ . . . conservative groups, unions, and free speech advocates who say the case is really about the First Amendment.”

The aforementioned First Amendment says this: Amendment I. “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 people to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Hmmm. Where did I put those reading glasses? What does that large print say right here under the heading “The Constitution of the United States of America?” WE THE UNIONS? No, it appears not. WE THE CORPORATIONS? No, it’s shorter than that. Oh, I found my eyeglasses. Wow ! ! It says ‘WE THE PEOPLE.” Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention Labor Unions OR Corporations. 

In fact, federally-recognized corporations and labor unions didn’t exist when Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote (I meant 'authored - Gouvesnor Morris wrote it; that's his handwriting you see behind me here)  it) and the Congress passed the U.S. Constitution. Nor do the Bill of Rights (that’s the first ten Amendments for you in Broward County), or the ensuing seventeen amendments mention the “rights” of Labor Unions or Corporations.

In fact in 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court, not the Congress, granted corporations a plethora of rights they had not previously recognized or enjoyed. Corporate charters were deemed "inviolable," and not subject to arbitrary amendment or abolition by state governments. The Corporation as a whole was labeled an "artificial person," possessing both individuality and immortality. Essentially, corporations were formed to protect stockholders rights, and to shield stockholders and corporate officers from personal liability under most circumstances.

So how does McCain-Feingold prevent “ . . . (our) citizens exchanging information and opinions with one another at the time of elections” as Ted Olson, who is representing the conservative Citizens United before the U.S. Supreme Court, asserts? Nothing in that law prevents stockholders, employees, or officers of a corporation, union bosses and rank-and-file, from individually campaigning, discussing or contributing for a cause or candidate of their choosing. So, Mr. Olson, where is your standing? Where are citizens’ Constitutional rights being violated’

If the Supreme Court upholds it’s(only) mandate (to uphold the Constitution), it will vote 9 – 0 in favor of the McCain-Feingold Law. Don’t hold your breath.

John W. Sawyer III
Info Deleted (soon)

Jan 21, 2010: I took my own advice and didn't hold my breath. The Supreme Court (in the Citizens United case) voted 5 - 4 to overturn McCain Feingold.

April 7, 2010: With the announced retirement of Justice Kennedy from the Supreme Court, President Obama speaks thus: I want a diverse court that maintains its objectivity and that is not elitist (translation - not like those Republican appointees [like the elitist Clarence Thomas ?]). 

Not elitist? Hmmm - the Nominees mentioned (Kagan, Wood, Napolitano (not Andrew, regretably)  are all from Ivy League schools, as are ALL of the sitting Justices AND President Obama.

Could it be that President Obama is THAT out of touch?

May 14, 2010: AP. Ms Kagan may be a lesbian. Etc etc. Some (those ubiquitous conservatives, you know) say (Katie Couric's "they") that her lesbianism could affect her future Court decisions on such issues as, say, Gay Marriage.

Gimme a break !!

First, who cares about her sexual orientation? 

Second, we never will be able to find some simpleton (unless we appoint John Stewart) whose personal views won't create a conflict with some issue or other that eventually comes before the court.

May  22, 2010: I dunno. This nominee is an academic - a relative rarity on Judicial Benches. Unlike, for example, Justice Ginsberg, whose decisions reflect her personal views on fairness and social justice, rather than on the Constitution (that she had sworn to uphold) or some other meaningless laws, if a Justice Kagan would render a dissenting decision thus, she knowingly would be doing so contrary to her years of academic teaching. 

Ms. Kagan will be confirmed. Watch for a slight shift to the right in future Supreme Court edicts - I mean decisions.

Be careful what you wish for liberals.


Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

 Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. 

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. 

Yada yada yada

John's note: While most historians consider the first paragraph above to be the preamble, many other historians include all of the writing in white to be the preamble. I err on the side of inclusion of everything in this column with the exception of "yada yada yada."

NOTE: FYI - Sean Hannity. THE CONSTITUTION does NOT mention "Pursuit of Happiness."  Perhaps you are confused by the Fifth Amendment which states, inter alia,  " . . . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

May 2011, No, Bill O'Reilly, Thomas Jefferson DID NOT write the Constitution - he was in Paris at the time. No, O'Reilly (having been corrected, still again, by Karl Rove, he did not send letters to "his friend, James Madison" offering advice - but nice try. (And in almost the same breath) No, Bill O'Reilly, John F. Kennedy WAS NOT Maria Shriver's Grandfather. She was his niece. Sheeeeesh.

(Read It Here - click)

So here's the situation: The Federal Government continues to maintain the exclusive authority vested in them by the Constitution to enforce immigration laws. 

The problem: Southwestern states, most especially Arizona are collapsing under the burden of an invasion of illegal immigrants. Ranchers and law enforcement officer are being shot at and killed. People are being kidnapped. Drugs are smuggled in and crime rates have soared.

The issue. While federal law is more than adequate to address the situation, the problem is that federal politicians openly are refusing to enforce the immigration laws. The reason of course is that the large numbers of Hispanic people who are here legally or who have become citizens oppose any enforcement of laws that keep their (former) countryman out of the USA.. Politicians are afraid to confront them out of fear of losing the Hispanic vote.

Party first . . politician second, . . . the rest of us? Never.


This page was last updated: February 24, 2018

What was the majority (the Liberals, + 1, yet ) of the Supreme Court thinking when it ruled in favor of the concept that someone's property can be seized under Eminent Domain, if someone else has a more expensive project they want to put on that land?

For more (click here)

Congress  shall  make  no  law respecting  an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Could the language proffered by our Founding Fathers in the First Amendment be any clearer?

It SAYS Congress can't establish a religion, and Congress can't prohibit us from exercising our right to practice our religion. Of course it doesn't say anything about the ACLU, President Obama, your high school principal, or some goons from SEIU from busting up your free excercise of religion - but I think any rational person (or even a lawyer on the Supreme Court)  can understand this ONE LINE of the Constitution - 

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe and others have said religion should be given two interpretations--a narrow one for Establishment Clause purposes and a broad one for Free Exercise Clause purposes? While I seldom agree with Professor Tribe, upon this issue, I concur. 

But no other part of the U.S. Constitution, with the possible exception of the Second Amendment, has created more discussion, animosity, and diverse opinions. Recent Supreme Court decisions seem to support Plaintiffs who seek to erase God from any form of public demonstration, whether in public schools or on government land.

Did the Founding Fathers believe that God should have no place in a free and democratic society? Here's what some of them had to say:

"With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice, that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people - a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language , professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government . . . have notably established general liberty and independence." (John Jay, Federalist 2)

"It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand  (No, not THAT finger) which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution." ( James Madison, Federalist 37 ).


October 4, 2010, New York Times: "Taking Gun Into a Bar Is Legal In 4 States."

WHY? Accordion to a bar patron in Tennessee, he carries his Glock everywhere except work. According to advocates, defenseless unarmed bar patrons are getting robbed while walking (or staggering) to their cars after eating/drinking. So rather than leaving their future to the whims of the robber, gun totin' bar patrons are packing heat and robber beware.

On the other hand, a lot of bar patrons are getting nervous when they see someone drinking and totin'. I think people should be able to protect themselves, and as I wrote above, it was the intent of the founding fathers to allow people to keep and bear (tote, I suppose) arms.

Does the right to bear arms madate that we MUST own a gun - or carry one? No, unless you are a citizen of Switzerland where it is mandatory to own a gun (bet you didn't know that) but not necessary to carry one. Certainly, one has the right to blast an armed robber before the bad guy can blow you away. In fact, I long have considered the 'imminent danger' Law posted in most states as ridiculous. If someone breaks into your house, you should not have to determine whether or not he intends to kill you or just steal your beer - he already knows, advantage burglar. 

Stick 'em up doesn't get it - shoot his ass. Occupational hazard.

But what about drinking and totin'? Drinking clouds judgment. Also, carrying a gun in plain sight (legal in some states) makes other bar or restaurant patrons uncomfortable. In the name of comity, can't the bearer of arms make some concessions?

Years ago in my grandfather's time, bars and restaurants checked hats and coats at the door. Do the same with handguns, with a trigger lock. Bar patrons are mugged AFTER they leave the place, not while they are in the place (except in the movies).

January 10, 2011: Update: Now the Florida Legislature wants to make it legal to carry a firearm in plain sight. "Palladin, Palladin . . . . where do you roam?"

May 2011Students for Concealed Carry on Campus ( is a national grassroots, non-partisan organization of U.S. college students, faculty, staff, and others who support allowing law-abiding citizens with concealed carry permits to bring their legal guns to campus for the purpose of self-defense. In addition to using traditional methods to attract students, the organization also makes use of a Facebook group, which has more than 44,000 members. Hmmm, maybe in Florida they can carry them openly on campus? "They call him Ringo."

I think that's a great idea. Now when those mature students (sorry - stu'  dents') get drunk on the weekends, and get quarrelsome between pulling up their blouses and shouting woo . .  woo . . . they can pull out old Smith & Wesson to liven things up. To paraphrase David Lee Roth, "We give Conservatives  a bad name . . . bad name . . . . bad name . . . bad name. . hmmmm.

December 19, 2014: UPDATE: OR WAS THAT 'POISON?'

(March 2, 2011)

Commonly referred to as the 'Westboro Baptist' case, the Supreme Court ruled 8 - 1 that Freedom of Speech as referred to in the U. S. Constitution includes the right of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas, to silently exercise their belief that homosexuality is a mortal sin, even if that right includes picketing against gays in the military - at a military funeral.

While the choice of venue certainly is regrettable, and the participants are less than Christian in their protests, the winner here is the right of all Americans to express their opinion and to exercise their right s of free speech. The losers in the case were the Plaintiffs, the parents of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, a Marine killed in Iraq, at whose  funeral the Westboro members carried signs reading "God Hates Fags," and "America is Doomed," and those Americans who strongly believe (as I do) that the fist  of one man's free speech ends at the tip of another's nose.

Rather, if I understand it correctly (the godawful muddled coverage in my morning New York Times being of little help), Phelps, the Appellant in the case argued solely on the question of whether or not Westboro had the right to interfere with the solemn ritual of  a funeral in the exercise of their alleged right to protest against gays in the military. Snyder, the Appellee (or it the other way around - I'm not a lawyer?), argues that the picketing interfered with the funeral.

Court testimony, however, showed that the protestors picketed silently from 1,000 feet away (pursuant to state statutes), and that the protests in no way disrupted the funeral services.  In fact all agreed that most attending the funeral were not even aware that the Westboro people were  there. But the only issue argued before the Supreme Court, unfortunately, was not one man's right of free speech over another's. In fact the decision awarding the Senior Snyders damages in the State Court were as a result of the Defendants (Westboro, et al) smearing Cpl. Snyder and his parents on the Internet - after the funeral. The argument was solely on the basis of the right of Westboro's protest versus the right of someone to to conduct a funeral. 

On that basis, the Court ruled, correctly, that the evidence showed that Westboro DID NOT interfere with the funeral; Therefore the decision of the lower court was overturned; irrevocably I might add - and costs must be paid by the Snyders. Justice in the American Judicial System. Given the narrow issues argued, the Supreme Court really had no choice but to rule against the Snyders. 

Why was the only issue argued that of free speech? Why didn't lawyers for the Snyders simply argue that the gratuitous libeling of their clients on the Internet was clearly a violation of their client's rights (slander and libel never having been recognized as a 'free speech' right), and aver that the decision in the lower court was the right one?

"Stupid is as stupid does," my momma always said.

I guess it would be of little comfort to note that 95 out of 100 Senators in the last Congress were lawyers.

BROWN V. PLATA ,  No. 09-1233

Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates. 

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy,  in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”  (as opposed to needful" suffering and death?).

In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the decision “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court (the lower appeals court) in our nation’s history.”  Apparently Scalia never heard of the Dred Scott case. Justice? He further opined, “the majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California.” 

Arguendo: Is it not the function, inter alia, of the U.S. Supreme Court to determine the Constitutionality of lower Court Decisions involving laws and Judicial decisions made by the States ? Or is it the function of that court to decide what is or is not in the best interest of the people of California? I say the latter is for the Legislative branch of the states to decide. Your jurisdiction should restricted to the merits of the case before the court - and nothing eles. What happened to that "activist court" against which you and other Conservative jurists (and I - to be honest) railed ?

My Opinion (siding with the majority): When the State of California (or any other state for that matter) assumes proprietary control over a convicted felon, it must assume certain responsibilities, and must protect that prisoner's Constitutional rights - like it or not. Those in your charge are PEOPLE , not ANIMALS.  If the State of Californis wants to lock these people up, it needs to treat them like HUMAN BEINGS. And shame on them for thinking otherwise.

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(So simple that Broward County Sheriff Israel can understand it)


The biggest problem we have in establishing court decisions based on case law is not whether the decision in the case cited was correct (it doesn't matter - it's the law), but, surprisingly, the way in which the findings of the case upon which the precedent is based is summarized. When cases are listed in those thick tan books you see on the shelves on Law and Order, or My Cousin Vinnie, each case in those books contains a small paragraph summary of the decision by the Appellate Ct. This saves busy (or lazy) lawyers the time it takes to actually read the whole case summary (although you, the client, often will be billed for that whole time - but I digress).

Take, for example, 06/30/81 Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Kaminester, a Florida Supreme Ct. Decision, with which I was previously acquainted : Briefly, Southern Bell listed the physical address incorrectly in its Yellow Pages advertisement for the Kaminester Medical practice. The good Doctor sued for loss of business based on his compilation of surveys filled out by new patients - that asked who had referred them. In that particular error year, Dr. K's referrals from Yellow Pages showed a noticable decline. The jury awarded damages - Ma Bell appealed.

The Florida Appellate Ct. reversed citing that the Dr. had paid himself a salary as a (sole) member of the board of directors of his own Medical Practice, corporation (perfectly legal), but had failed to include that in his computation of damages for the alleged loss of income for the Yellow Pages error. K's lawyer argued that his board compensation should be excluded from the calculations (Who did the Dr, think he was? A friend of Chris Dodd and Barney Frank?).

What it boiled down to is this - even though the address was listed incorrectly, Dr. K earned just as much as any other year. Maybe he should cancel his Yellow Pages ad? But in the register of case law (I think that's  what they call it), the summary of the case lazily said something like this" A person seeking damages for loss of business must first deduct any compensation from that business". Which led to the (even lazier) interpretation of the law that any one suing for damages must first deduct all income. If you apply this to retail sales, no retailer would recover anything. And stupidly, that is exactly how lazy lawyers and judges (excuse the redundancy), too lazy to read the case or too stupid to understand it (are you listening Miami?), misinterpreted a simple case law.

Kaminester (a perfectly simple decision) was overturned in all Federal Appeals Court Circuits - not because it was bad law, which it wasn't, BUT BECAUSE SOME LAW CLERK (probably on crack) WROTE A POOR SUMMARY. People make mistakes. Lawyers are people too. Really. Sadly, lawyers make up about 90% of our Nationally elected officials.



No. 10-63.
Supreme Court of the United States.
January 18, 2012.

           The Maples decision is correct in that the single-most important provision in the U.S. Constitution is: Habeus Corpus; the right of the accused to face his accusers. Not abortion rights. Not Eminent Domain that gives big developers the right to seize your property; not even the convoluted right of “We the Corporations and Unions” to campaign freely for or against a candidate in the Citizens’ United ruling. HABEUS CORPUS. But does Justice Ginsburg’s majority opinion go far enough?

(More Click Here)


Article I, Section 8, Clause 4. 

“The Congress shall have power to… establish a uniform rule of naturalization.”

That means that Congress, not the courts, not Barack Obama, the UNITED STATES CONGRESS has the power to regulate immigration.
Authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay 1787 - 1788

Written by Gouvernour Morris 1788.

Adopted by the Continental Congress - Geo. Washington, Presiding. 1788.

Amendments 1 - 10 (Bill of Rights) - ratified 1789, Effective 1791.