Does Mitt Romney really think corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people? HA – trick question! Actually, he thinks corporations have more First Amendment rights than people.
Romney certainly believes that the 5-4 Supreme Court majority in Citizens United decided that case correctly. As well he might. The result of Citizens United and related court decisions is that Romney and his death star Super PAC, Restore Our Future, can receive unlimited amounts of money from a few billionaires without even having to disclose their names.
But does Romney believe that people also have a First Amendment right to anonymity in electoral politics? The Supreme Court actually decided this issue in the affirmative 17 years ago, when it struck down an Ohio law prohibiting the distribution of anonymous campaign literature as a violation of the First Amendment.
Romney thinks otherwise, Supreme Court or no Supreme Court. While he was Governor, the Massachusetts House and Senate passed a law to repeal a Massachusetts statute that, like the Ohio law, made it illegal to circulate anonymous political material. The point of the repeal was to conform our state law to the U.S. Constitution, recognizing that the Supreme Court had invalidated such statutes. But when the bill reached Romney’s desk, he vetoed it. Ignoring Supreme Court precedent, he wrote that the statute
was originally enacted to help protect the integrity of the electoral process. It requires a person or organization to take responsibility for the statements in circulars or posters that are designed to aid or defeat a political candidate…Because I believe that the proposed bill sends the wrong message to those willing to make deliberate misstatements to influence the outcome of an election, I am [vetoing it].
So Mitt Romney thinks that corporations are entitled to anonymity so that they can make deliberate misstatements to influence the outcome of an election, but people are not. Anybody surprised?
PS – like most of Governor Romney’s vetoes, this one was overridden by the Legislature. State Senator Scott Brown’s vote? To sustain the Governor’s veto.