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Speak While You Still Can

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by Peter Roff • U.S. News

The armchair constitutionalists who have lately been about the business of trying to nullify the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Citizens United case are so full of ardor for their cause they are no longer thinking clearly.

They believe passionately to the point of distraction that money is a singularly corruptive influence on the American political process – as long as it is corporate money which, to them, means it comes from General Motors, Microsoft, Goldman-Sachs and other really big repositories of wealth.

There’s so much wrong with this thinking that there isn’t enough bandwidth available on the internet to explain the errors in one place. Suffice it to say, their passion for the subject has led them in directions that threaten the constitutional integrity of the American system.

At the forefront of this movement is ultra-billionaire Tom Steyer, a former dirty energy czar now devoted, in his own mind at least, to cleaning up politics and the Planet Earth. He backed the Democrats to the hilt in their effort to hold the U.S. Senate and is aggressively working to make sure the left-liberal position remains well represented in the U.S. Congress. In case you were wondering, that involves kneecapping his opponents just as much as it does helping his friends.

Steyer has thrown his considerable political and economic weight behind California’s Proposition 59, a ballot measure that if passed would start a process to deny corporations many of the rights they share with individual citizens in an attempt to drive them out of the political arena.

According to California Senate Bill 254 – the measure that ultimately led to Prop. 59 securing a place on the Nov. 8 ballot – “Corporations are not mentioned in the United States Constitution, nor have we decreed that corporations have rights separate from ‘We the People.'”

That’s a thorny, even dangerous assertion. As the excellent Lachlan Markay wrote recently in The Federalist, Prop. 59 calls to “amend the U.S. Constitution to allow the government to regulate religious sermons, tap the phones of the American Civil Liberties Union, seize phone record and Internet search histories on a whim, and give bureaucrats veto power over the content of The New York Times.” What Steyer is backing – and be assured California is just the first step down a long road if the measure passes – is a new era of government in which the Citizens United decision is not just rendered moot, but one in which all previous decisions that applied constitutional rights and protections to incorporated entities would be wiped off the books because of the “other applicable judicial precedents” contained within.

Prop. 59 wouldn’t just apply to the Fortune 100; no, it would apply equally to not-for-profit social welfare groups, labor unions, churches, large grant-making foundations, media outlets and other associations recognized under current law as having rights similar or in some case identical to those we all enjoy as citizens.

Think of it this way: The company that employs you now has as much right to due process as you do. The FBI or the local police cannot enter your workplace and turn it upside down in a search without either the consent of the owners or a warrant. Company assets cannot be seized without trial. And if it is a media company like the one that is paying me to write this column, the government cannot prevent it from being published.

Prop. 59 goes farther, much farther than its supporters want anyone to understand. Under its terms, should it or something like it become the law of the land, all the protections that keep these nightmare scenarios of government overreach from happening go out the window because they wouldn’t be overreach anymore. It’s more than political correctness run amok; it’s a pathway to tyranny, dangerous to our common conception of liberty.

The problem is endemic. The walls are closing in like the door in a trap for the Caped Crusader. According to a recent survey of 1,000 adults published by Rasmussen, two out of three Americans see the pressure to be PC as a threat that has taken away their ability to speak freely about issues of the day, only Batman is not around to rescue us from the Tom Steyers of the world. Prop. 59 is one more cog in the gigantic machinery making up a campaign to wipe out free speech as we understand it. Opponents of the Second Amendment, supporters of anti-global warming efforts, and those who see America as a sexist patriarchy dominated by white males needing to be rebuilt from the ground up are all cheering as they watch the fringe muscling its way into the center while forcing everyone else out, ironically with money made available by the very Supreme Court decision at the center of their argument for why change is necessary.

Speak now America, or forever hold your piece.