Glenn Greenwald Vs. Prof. Lessig On Citizens United (Cenk Moderates)


where to start the program today with a
very interesting different segment we don’t use it to people on it the same
time but i’m really pleased to do that in this case it’s two guys that i really respect
professor larry lessig from harvard law school and glenn greenwald from salon dot com and there on the site what different sides of this issue here
we’re going to have a discussion and see if we can make sense of the
citizens united case first i want to ask thank you for both
for coming on and and welcome you both cuddly brigadier art that you guys
professor leslie let me start with you i can you for the purpose of this conversation and quickly summarize for us what the
citizens united case decided sure that the question inhibited united
at the conchords by it with whether congress propeller to limit corporation in their independent political speech because the dispute independent of a
political campaign contribution to a campaign and congress had regulator that speech
within sixty days in an election and the question the court has whether
congress have that power and the court said that the first amendment means the congressman such power to limit corporate speech all right now goal and let’s start with you because allot of
people on the progress of saidan and i would count you jelly on that side uh… think this was a disastrous
decision and that it was av could have disastrous political
consequences for system above more the heart of what we want talk about here
today uh… was also disastrous in terms of weather was a correct decision on a
traditionally largely speaking you don’t seem to agree
with that if i’ve got it right what why do you think the case might have the
court might have gotten right in this case well-prepared you drive really really is
really important to keep a distinction between a decision that uh… that hurts and one
half wrongly decided um either case i’m not actually
convinced because the status quo before this case was so happiness in terms of
how much influence corporations production and recorded on the
commercial property but even if it’s true that this decision
beeping bartley works for substantially worse better than evident necessarily that the
court got a raw sometimes the constitution protects activities that are very harmful a call to the
constitution obviously protects the rights of nazis were other
extremists to speak freely elected epsom very damaging
a faction and yet the constitution does not allow us debate on that even though banning that speech might be beneficial so i think i think that you
can first and foremost ought to be
underscored because i think that from time to get completed and discussions of
court cases but repair if it’s a fairly simple issues for the core product right which
is i think it’s a very hard to gauge
because as i said and i think socialistic certainly agrees the influenced the corporation regular our
political process stranglehold birthday exert uh… the legislative process in
particular into mightily for the cure three pop
threat that our democracy faces brilliant the first amendment is extraordinarily
clear and compelling interest congress public cooperative free speech this built this the flaw that was invalidated
phase does exactly that and of course would be right for this
case was an activist group citizens united um… that was a group of citizens
sharing a certain ideology that want to disseminate a film criticizing the
presidential candidate governor clinton and one thing and by the government
doing trips with really corp oracle speech of exactly the kind of censorship
at the first amendment was designed to prevent i think that the solutions that
we find this problem of corporate control need to be pumping other than
empowering the government to decide who can and cannot speak about political issue and and when
they could do that speak soaps let’s let’s let’s go to nodes glenn makes a compelling case for hate
this is political speech and that’s exactly what the first amendment is
supposed to protect whether we like you know we don’t like it what’s the answer
to that but glenn is right without sixteen
different way but i think the curtain that there’s one
part of listen to the story which will explain what the conflict is at least
among people who like land room recognize the extraordinary
corruption which is our government so what is right about it this is plainly
political speech an easterly right at the first amendment
traditionally protect this kind of peaches and strong riveting but i think that most people when they hear the issue here and actually hit most people who are
concerned about actually thinking about people like citizens united they’re not
actually even thinking about corporate speech what they feed educate as a proxy
for is exactly the problem which i think
letters written about so compelling without a different context on deaf ears approx before a congress which becomes increasingly
dependent upon private interest and not sufficiently depend upon doing
with the people want m then there are context in which i think
it’s a hard constitutional questions if not ticket that was presented by the time you know silly film by this non-profit
should be allowed redeployment wrote whether there’s any ability for congress insulate itself from influences that lead ninety percent of americans to
believe money buys resulting congress doubting that friend like out there
they’re very interesting parallel case which have to print kore decided car
trip last term with the case of the matthew k where you know which is actually
literally john grisham novel un where afaik court ok company loses the coal company
loses a fifty million dollar judgment chairman of the coal company spent three
million dollars to kick out judge on the appellate court and then hope that judge that gets
replacing the judge it was kicked out catholic deciding vote in favor of the
coal company and the question the court had to ask
what they’ve got a constitution require that judge to step aside to recuse
himself for the court held world because the obvious implication of this
pattern of uh… fax width of the people to think that the
judge has been improperly influenced hit a constitutional obligation to step
aside in the case now i think with with striking it would be required is very sensitive to the need to protect
the institutional integrity of the court but it’s almost giving congress no easy
or obvious way except the one that i crucial glen i
agree about that to protect the institutional integrity
of congress because where congress’ structure the way it
structured breakdown and to know if in fact it’s turns out that we have
billions of dollars spent by corporations in congressional elections to elect the
particular congress they want it’ll only get worse than what we have a congress people
don’t trust people believe money buys the resulting in an it further weaken effectiveness of this book was i think we all three of three and
that you know that that this is very troubling or
potentially troubling at least and al you know i not only do i grew a great it
is a tough reissue i was glad i should say that is the top three issue uneasy
top issue and we’ve talked about that on the show before i’m not sure we’ve got the core of
glenn’s pt issue here see saying hey whether we
think it’s terribly troubling or not it’s a first amendment matter and what are the reasonable limits that you
could put on a first amendment and does this meet those reasonable
limits and answer well i again i’m not somebody who
believed that wrong to think political speech like this needs to be
protected and is protected by the first one i think there is no that in fact inlet
complex mix of cases that if the supreme court first amendment doctrine it would not have been hard at all to
draw a consistent line from series of cases that would possibly knife found constitutional authority to limit speech in this context but in the context of corporation spending you know touch of
disproportionate insignificant amount of money if they did in the cape accounted
for the masochist that there would be constitutional
authority to limit so in in this effort welfare
something wrong about finding that the speech was protected i
think the answer is no but if it means that there’s no power of
congress to insulate itself from the kind of influences that will be
people to believe that money buys resulting congress that we have a
serious problem about the ability of our democracy to protect itself finnick cynicism breeding dynamic that
of course all three of the victory of the center of congress’ problem right
now so glenn at in my mind that this is what
it is there though here we’re talking to
professor larry lessig from harvard law school and glenn greenwald from salon
and also the author of how to patriot act the tragic legacy and great american
hypocrites uh… glenn one uh… i everybody knows obviously that
you know you have the right freedom of speech freedom right to shout fire in a crowded theater can argue would be made it arafat putting this much money in the campaign
said anytime that they want gets the point where and the scope of
our national political system were shouting fire in a crowded theater what they call me and i feel like the shutting fire in a crowded theater
is not an expression of a political opinions or political speech that’s
really expression of faith claim a fault factual statement leads all sorts of damaged the argument that
you’re making which is that three political speech in question produces
such grave dangers to our democracy that we ought
to be permitted to club with a vehicle be able to restrict it pump organ to find any support metaxas
first which says the congress shall make no law abridging free speech not i’m left there is a really good reason
to do so ummm although proposal of a good part of the quarters
foundry government free speech not having that but more importantly if you go back on
the copy instances in which people try to restrict political speech not in
across or or or going qatar require we’ll look at the point of course ph
kore political speech but the caveat that baldness speech in question is so present such
great danger that we need to prohibit that foreign without about communists who didn’t
believe in our form of government to want to overthrow it violently and
therefore needed to be restricted or critics of world war one undermining the war effort what some people like
newt gingrich right now about expressions of what they consider to be
a radical involvement and the need to bernadette so i’m very wary of the argument i think
you have a hard time convincing in any case that word toughbook or political
speech but the argument that will that something so gravely damaging about this
particular speech justifies it on the today show what i think that
the more interesting question unpaid ended up again i think there’s been a lot of exaggeration about
the factor but this is an eventful proposal
offered by the writing about the congress of our political system is
drowning in money long before today’s united ever happen i think the extent to which it this will change
things uh… has been overstated well i think it’s the more extreme issue
especially now that this decision views is is has been issued it are there ways
to address these problems sort of empowered the government to
limit and restrict political speech and you know proposal articles written about
a lot of potential approaches the bus promise and
which i think but the way that congressman put it all from the sorts of
perceptions accurate perception took the fifth circuit has that that not acting free of corruption of this through a serious public
financing system which will alleviate the need four members of congress to serve the
interest of large corporate donors of the meeting getting elected acting exploring vat as well as potential amendment for the constitution which i
generate river stupid in this case i think it’s probably worth it uh… is it the more fruitful question at this point in terms
of how to control this problem that we all agree that it is such a manner glamorous it would be good to go to
point a bid to boost again i think c_b_s_ all three of us would suit
snap-in finance reform is critical in that my beginning for assistance but
that has not happened yet before does as the k citizens united might have a
dramatic effect before nyet anything else does and the select that lisa point
amber to which is this idearc over person yes you might have arrived as an
american citizen say maybe you like and it might be right before election and
you might say to the tune of a billion dollars now might go for me as well but why does it go for corporation that is
not a human being that is not in doubt with inalienable rights and that is
really a m not only a fiction as in terms of uh… political entity is something that we’ve
agreed upon all but uh… furthermore ealier this use of
four corporations and well let me say the for corporations for
the second part but let’s let’s start there what why they people all palpably arabic beauty really depend
on that question about whether corporate corporations corrupt person hurt their
daughter trip of our question i don’t think resolution of this case requires more
certainly not principally but analysis that question because the first
amendment aramanan that that’s right and persons the first time in about one of the
doesn’t talk about person possibly for congress mcnaught bridging free speech we’ve got to be a percentage
of how the first time it right the first amendment has really about restricting
what congress can do in the way of free speech or a billboard leaving really want to
take that position i don’t think i know that none of the time justice of the
supreme court justice to this and i don’t think that’s a lot to provider we really look at the person that
corporations are not person from therefore don’t possess constitutional rights clearly doing isn’t working from fairly
radical notion dangerous notion that would mean that congress could find
corporation ten million dollars a week and they criticize the government nor
endorsed or worse anything good about the conservative politician it would
mean that they have no fluff from our point of arab rights which meet
the f_b_i_ could just go and invade corporate offices at will uh… and church in fees without
probable cause a warrant labor unions are advocacy groups like the kill you
also are persons uh… so if you really think that no one
except actual human being for the prosecution a right to have been a
congressman barr labor unions or advocacy groups from expression and
political opinions or assemble in her petition the government so i think you know anyone who wants to
take that were that you ought to recognize providence radical pathetic
actually quite dangerous i think the more reasonable position is on the price
of our coverage of the response to some degree from a which is or corporations constitutional right
because they’re creatures of the state because they get benefits from the state the statement more right to condition to
impose conditions in exchange for killing that benefit diving to the more much more reasonable
argument with me though if you have that but i think my cultural perspective is is is is dangerous because what was
actually sayers mc regarding actively r_u_ from engaging
in free speech or pickup truck driver our rights with regard to the property but what if you do it if it
gives you a better fit it would require in exchange for that benefit that you
relinquish certain right so it could say if we’re going to give you welfare
payments or disability or unemployment your barred from speaking out against
the government barred from making contributions to a political campaign
under the argument while you’re not bargain if you don’t want to accept our
benefit i want to accept our benefit we have the right to start regulating what it is back to do so i think evenly refinishing even granting the
readability of that argument that the kind of corporate recruiter the state
the states to have more of a power to regulate what they can do i think they’re still
clearly constitutional problems and also problems from a practical perspective it
in power in the government um under that framework that fed wants to give you a
better fit we can start telling you what to do with it and and and if you don’t
like to talk to accept the benefit with because that’s an interesting uh… snag
lemmings your points n and would you be willing to say hey you know
if you watching a benefit from the government with reading tarp money
whatever might it is a hundred different cases then we could put limits on what
you say they’re doing campaign or would you apply that to all
corporations ’cause you think in some way they all benefit from the government
and then that’s seems to be an issue of lease of whether that’s too
broad well this important it’s very important the precise about what actually is being restricted
in what it would not be restrict folk if the government said in exchange for
you have a driver’s license you’ve got to give up your right to vote democratic
got because clearly unconstitutional together with the government is doing is
taking away your right you our individual rights something that uyrdc
that weird and that you weren’t out by your creator
without an inalienable rights and you’ve been you can’t be forced to give it up even understanding that uh… we should
recognize this as i remarked in the in the notes today hi posted in response to climb plenty of cases where the government had
effectively done happened so faith that famous case prosperous and follow them
with the doctors worked in a family planning clinic that got five percent of
its money from the federal government diet the government said ronald reagan said you can’t discussed abortion as a method
for her family planning with your patients from the supreme court said no
first another problem off you don’t like it don’t take the money
from the government so than we can effectively by out your
personal rights and lots of context i think in many more context and they
should be allowed to but agree this is that this is a very
expensive important question i would certainly gunfight at many fewer context in which anybody can
buy out or effectively force you to give up your right but that’s not what that issue with the
corporate speech today because in the corporate speech case the fact that exxon cannot would not be
allowed to exercise it power to use it’s treasury money to
spend on corporate campaigns does not reduced the ability of any
particular individual in exxon to spend his money on corporate campaign this is
all about the legal entity not about the individual soaked when it when the character i think the
cape about silencing a particular perspective there’s no fat prospective silent it’s a
particular actors whoever creatures of the state and that’s what’s so we heard
about this is kind of blade runner moment where we’ve created these entities and then we
discover they’ve been endowed by their creator art with the planning going alright and you
know i think the hard question is not whether the constitution get with the
power to take away our rights from individuals it’s why can’t we build
entities that have different mix of rain itself that the btu the private apartment that
was that don’t actually want to take away the
rights of corporations to speak i actually think we should at the widest
range of speech rights possible i think that the proper quite problem
with the one that we’ve all agreed on and right before the end of the point i
want to emphasize is exactly what glenn said we’ve got to get dr thinking about what our real solution
to this problem it’s been a real solution is not denying corporations
personhood or it’s not even denying the citizens united the right to put up a silly films the real solution to this is the change
economy of influence washington by building a real public or status
unfunded election system and you know right now this minute in
congress that the goal of a hundred and thirty five co-sponsors that would make
a portent first step toward feted rather than dickering around with these tiny little
response inflicted ministration of supporting in the democrats in congress
is reporting that will not change this problem atoll progressive ought to be pushing congress to be adopting for the from fund
elections tomorrow and that would radically change this
problem even if it doesn’t falter because epic i’d rather know exactly how much
money for the united’s could bring in on one side of the question but we’ll be
thought of start in a pro speech way about supporting regulations that responding a regime that gives us much
more speech the balance whatever distorting effect corporate speed if i could let me just say one more
question for both of you designed genuinely interested in your answers
here because glenn brought up a really good good point about haiti the
government being able to come to a ups or or c_n_n_ and saying hey you cannot
say any about democratic party anymore or their opponent party anymore
otherwise you know x_y_z_ if they don’t have pero freedom of speech rights than couldn’t they presumably do that festa
lessig endif and if you say they can is a citizens united fairly correct well said well go collided authority to
put it that would have to write the kind of regulation like the one incident
united again depending i don’t want to block who’ve returned from speaking the
question of a constitutional prospective how could they do it and the answer if that debt the
constitution if u people just might be on the that freedom of speech clause already has built unit an explicit protection for the class of speech that i think all
of us believe the government dinner should have no ability tight which is
speech by the press so if you haven’t heard something or c_n_n_ or the new
york times or slate dot com must if anything or the
young turks so i think that the government have any
power to try to control anything that they think now absolutely not and i would also fix
i think about the government the power even for exxon to pay that you can’t other you know political speech about new global
warming that they’re not global warming i think that’s also there could be no
possible justification for that regulation either but the question is if
government is trying to regulate to avoid this corrupting influence inside
of the government does should the first another block it i don’t see why it should but again i
don’t think that this is this is uh… fruitful way to deal with this problem i
think the way to deal with it is exactly what client and glenn final question for
you you know if you take citizens united to its
logical extreme him it didn’t say that only national
corporations are you united states corporations have rights so could corporation run by a saudi
prince or go chalmers or anything like that come in and say all right on the spend a billion dollars on the
connecticut campaign or the next presidential campaign and would not be a signature well videorecording extinction because
uh… corporate crikey of predators is something absolutely agree with you
tomorrow i think the court majority cup got there
at the issue right and and in many respects which is that what they really get what
they can order happenin number of instances faith compact into our
speakers between jobs and all sorts of by restrictions of the first amendment
that were inconsistent with what they did hear contact all the court rapid the
judge’s wrap themselves in this first amendment flack actually blowout person
to think that that was authentic working here what they’re really doing well i
think they’d be kicked out of the notion that there is real corruption there was
even so i think a footnote recall correctly from cap of thirty thousand
there was even a single vote that anybody can identify that would actually
ever bought won the entire propped up with doctors is bought art also if you get the eager
right that if the court were to expand its principle to its logical conclusion
might bretton prohibitions on foreign corporations from spending money to
influence our elections but that is that how this court operates through principal and i think
what they would think that indicates a foreign corporation they possess
certainly watch our free speech rights and corporation spacing out of paper
that are american and and and and their nature p compelling interest is far
greater and prevent important foreign than in preventing america corporations
from speaking out about our election that wouldn’t be principled i don’t
think that would be a conflict that they could be but i think that something that they would do it of course the
state did not directly address applicant those professions are gone for
corporations after speaking but i think a package of pop for the court they
would have made it difficult if they were so inclined purely a malcolm faces
from the start with a christmas principles saying that that different
politics is much more compelling smart glenn greenwald some salon and also a
great american hypocrites and cecil larry lessig from harvard law school in
some cities congress thank you both so much for joining us it was a great
conversation we’re really appreciated but what we thank you we’ll be right back

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