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 (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.

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: March 29, 2018
Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469.

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 ).


(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)


  "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

Which brings us to the matter at hand - The controversial Second Amendment. In 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, which contained a provision for raising a confederal militia that consent would be required from nine of the 13 States. Article VI of the Articles of Confederation states, "...every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of filed pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage." These Articles were in effect during the Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783) and thereafter 1777-1787. 

But accoutered or not, State Militias, an independent lot, consiisted of members - ever loyal and fit for a fight with the hated redcoats (lobster backs many called them), who enlisted for one year. Thereafter, many just packed up and went home. Also, most were untrained in military matters and generally were no match against the British troops in a "conventional" war. The burden of waging war passed to the standing army, the Continental Army. Militias performed the important role guarding local civilians against Indian attacks and (in the South) against slave rebellions fomented by the British.

After several defeats, General George Washington requested and received the Continental Army, under the control of the Continental Congress. 

Until such time as the Constitutional Convention met for the established purpose of upgrading the Articles of Confederation. (1775 - 1787) 

"At the time of the drafting of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, a political sentiment existed in the newly formed United States involving suspicion of peacetime armies not under civilian control. This political belief has been identified as stemming from the memory of the abuses of the standing army of Oliver Cromwell and King James II, in Great Britain in the prior century, which led to the Glorious Revolution and resulted in placing the standing army under the control of Parliament. During the Congressional debates, James Madison discussed how a militia could help defend liberty against tyranny and oppression":(source: Wikipedia)

But a counter-veiling reality was that The British were on our Northern Border; the Spanish (Louisiana, the Mississippi River, Florida) and Indians to the West; the French in the Carribean and The British controlled the Seas. Without a standing Federal Army, we were literally defenseless - local militias simply could not be rounded up in time to meet a serious threat.

"Gorgons, hydras, and chimera's dire"

In Federalist 8, Hamilton Wrote: "There is a wide difference, also, between military establishments in a country seldom exposed by its situation to internal invasions, and in one which is often subject to them, and always apprehensive of them. The rulers of the former can have a good pretext, if they are even so inclined, to keep on foot armies so numerous as must of necessity be maintained in the latter. These armies being, in the first case, rarely, if at all, called into activity for interior defense, the people are in no danger of being broken to military subordination. The laws are not accustomed to relaxations, in favor of military exigencies; the civil state remains in full vigor, neither corrupted, nor confounded with the principles or propensities of the other state. The smallness of the army renders the natural strength of the community an over-match for it; and the citizens, not habituated to look up to the military power for protection, or to submit to its oppressions, neither love nor fear the soldiery; they view them . . . (as a) necessary evil, and stand ready to resist a power which they suppose may be exerted to the prejudice of their rights. The army under such circumstances may usefully aid the magistrate to suppress a small faction, or an occasional mob, or insurrection; but it will be unable to enforce encroachments against the united efforts of the great body of the people.

Note: So Hamilton thought (under unspecified circumstances) that the Army could be controlled by a much larger citizenry.

The perpetual menacings of danger oblige the government to be always prepared to repel it; its armies must be numerous enough for instant defense. The continual necessity for their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen. The military state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants of territories, often the theatre of war, are unavoidably subjected to frequent infringements on their rights, which serve to weaken their sense of those rights; and by degrees the people are brought to consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their superiors. The transition from this disposition to that of considering them masters, is neither remote nor difficult; but it is very difficult to prevail upon a people under such impressions, to make a bold or effectual resistance to usurpations supported by the military power."

Note: Again, Hamilton (who was a distinguished officer in the Continental Army during the War), expressing a concern of tyranny by an armed standing Army.

 In Federalist 29, Hamilton, believing that a large standing Army in peacetime was too expensive writes: "Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year."

"But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as . . . impracticable; yet . . . a plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia . . . of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist."

Note: Hamilton favors an armed citizenry vs. a regular standing army for protection against tyranny.

In Federalist 46, James Madison weighs in on the discussion thus: "Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves."

Note: Standing Army - armed citizenry; two separate entities; both armed.

Madison further observes" "Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. *

"It may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it."

Note: One year after Madison published this, the French People fought and earned their own Revolution (Of course, with Napoleon, that worked out really well, didn't it?).


The Militia and Army were divergent entities (after 1777). Madison and Hamilton, the principle authors of the Constitution, saw the necessity of a Federal Army, but feared its power and its potential for tyranny (much in the manner of the many military dictatorships around the world today). Thus - arming the people = no tyranny. So you better be packin'

* In Switzerland, bearing arms is a requirement, by law."


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.

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 2011, Students 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?'Double click here to add text.