On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations can "spend freely" to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress.
As usual, Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's lone black justice, joined the conservative majority. Thomas dissented on Part IV, which upheld disclaimer and disclosure requirements. Curiously, the justice took the opportunity to gay-bash from the bench and cited anti-gay Proposition 8 supporters who wanted their identities hidden.
Thomas' dissent reads in part:
I dissent from Part IV of the Court’s opinion, however, because the Court’s constitutional analysis does not go far enough. The disclosure, disclaimer, and reporting requirements in BCRA §§201 and 311 are also unconstitutional….
Amici’s examples relate principally to Proposition 8, a state ballot proposition that California voters narrowly passed in the 2008 general election. … Any donor who gave more than $100 to any committee supporting or opposing Proposition 8 was required to disclose his full name, street address, occupation, employer’s name (or business name, if self-employed), and the total amount of his contributions. 1 See Cal. Govt. Code Ann. §84211(f) (West 2005). The California Secretary of State was then required to post this information on the Internet.
Some opponents of Proposition 8 compiled this information and created Web sites with maps showing the locations of homes or businesses of Proposition 8 supporters. Many supporters (or their customers) suffered property damage, or threats of physical violence or death, as a result. …
Now more than ever, §§201 and 311 will chill protected speech because—as California voters can attest—”the advent of the Internet” enables “prompt disclosure of expenditures,” which “provide[s]” political opponents “with the information needed” to intimidate and retaliate against their foes. Thus, “disclosure permits citizens … to react to the speech of [their political opponents] in a proper”—or undeniably improper —”way” long before a plaintiff could prevail on an as-applied challenge.
"I cannot endorse a view of the First Amendment that subjects citizens of this Nation to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in “core political speech, the ‘primary object of First Amendment protection.’"
Adds Joe Sudbay at AMERICABlog: "That's the contribution to the debate from Justice Thomas. He seems a tad obsessed with the gays these days. One wonders if he'd ever compile a similar list of incidents of hate crimes and violence against LGBT Americans."