Dworkin's Plain Statism
As is usually the case, The New York Review of Books gives ample room to some leftist jurists, like Professors David Cole or Ronald Dworkin, to provide the politically correct commentary on a major ruling by the US Supreme Court. And so unsurprisingly, Professor Dworkin penned such a piece in the magazine's August 16, 2012, issue. It is a beauty of statist jurisprudence arguing that all in all the Roberts Court's recent decision to give President Obama's signature healthcare program a pass was a welcome thing from the Left's perspective. (Others, like Professor Randy Barnett, have made arguments from the libertarian side, holding that the ruling isn't so bad for those who want to advance the cause of human liberty. See the interview with Professor Barnett in Reason, October 2012.)
I leave others to deal with the legal technicalities of Professor Dworkin's argument and wish to focus on what is actually a sort of sidebar remark he makes about the Court's earlier ruling, in the 2010 Citizens United case, which Dworkin, of course, detests. By his account business corporations − companies of people coming together voluntarily so as to embark upon various commercial projects − are not to be treated as people who can offer political opinions and give support to politicians or to public policies. It is the following passage that jumped out at me:
"The conservative majority's opinion in that case insisted that such corporate expenditures [in support of championing some public policies or opposing others] would not create even the appearance of corruption. This year the state of Montana pleaded with the Court to rethink that judgment: the state said that the amount and evident political impact of corporate electioneering in the past two years has conclusively demonstrated a risk of corruption..." (NYRB, 8/2012:6).
What stood out to me in this remark is how readily Professor Dworkin refers to the state of Montana, and by implication any other state or country, as if it were a person who can make statements, issue pleas, etc. He has no problem with writing "the state of Montana pleaded," and "the state said." Yet the entire point of his piece is that corporations are not persons who can have opinions, hold views, make statements, etc.
Such personalization flies in the face of the plain fact that states, unlike corporations, are comprised of highly diverse citizens and to see them as having one mind and one voice is simply wrong. It reveals the ideology of a statist who treats governments as personas even while refusing to admit that voluntarily assembled business corporations and labor unions can express opinions and champion political causes.
In short, for Professor Dworkin states or governments that are collections of extremely diverse populations can but companies of human beings who decided to embark upon common projects cannot be regarded as persons. That is the height of collectivism.
In the case of Justice Roberts himself, Professor Dworkin refuses to accept the Justice's argument at face value and contend with it as such; instead, he proceeds to speculate on Justice Roberts's motives − he "must feel threatened" by various elements of the political landscape, etc., and made his ruling because of such facts, not because he judged the case as meriting his ruling.
Such psychological speculations do not belong in disputations about whether a given ruling by a court has or lacks validity and is usually indulged in by people who want to avoid real arguments. But never mind that. What is more important is how easily Professor Dworkin slips into his statist parlance, endorsing the idea that states, unlike voluntarily assembled companies of people, are persons! It is not surprising, considering that the good professor is a leading opponent of all traces of individualism and voluntarism from our legal system.
Posted by Hedgehog on 09/26/12 04:10 PM
Dworkin does not think Montana is a person. Dr. Machan assumes that attributing actions to groups presupposes that those groups are "persons who can have opinions, hold views, and make statements." That is a surprisingly bad assumption. We harmlessly use the language of agency all the time to refer to what collections of individuals do without assuming that those groups have mental states, much less personhood. The New York Jets won the Super Bowl last year, but their team is clearly not a person. Dworkin's reference to Montana is perfectly consistent with his view that corporations do not have individual rights to unlimited political spending.
Posted by IndyLyn on 09/24/12 07:26 PM
But what about the Monsanto companies, Eli Lilly corporations, Unions representing political party... not their 'voluntary' employees!!! When corporate entities and 'voluntary' organizations meld with governments, then was is the answer. Sorry... I'm agin 'em all!!!
Posted by victorbarney on 09/24/12 04:11 PM
The Leftists actually are easy to identify: It's all in the biology of the species. Women are "gatherer's" by their very own female biology & blacks are gatherers by a combination of biology & choice. However, taking them both together, they make-up our SUPER MAJORITY VOTING BLOCK! I'm talking about over 70% of our voting population! Duh! We're going DOWN as prophesized in your very own Bible! We saved England when "MARXISM" BROKE THEM, BUT WHO WILL SAVE US? EVEN UNLIKE WILSON, OBAMA'S MENTOR, WILSOM HATED ONLY BLACKS, BUT THEY MADE UP ONLY ABOUT 12% of our population, whereas, Obama hates ALL whites(i.e., NON BLACKS), including HIS OWN MOTHER, which makes up 88% of our total population! OUCH! SO THIS CAN'T END WELL FOR U.S., CAN IT? However, we will be punished by the two-witnesses of Revelation, chapter 11, leaving ONLY 144,000 Anglo-Saxons alive from the 12 tribes of Israel, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes with the tribe of Joseph replacing the tribe of Dan(Irish)(Rev. chapter 7) in being protected in these last days! No? WATCH! Do you know that Obama is the ONLY LEADER OF U.S. IN HISTORY PREDICTED IN THE HEBREW-INSPIRED BIBLE, not even true of Washington or the FIRST REPUBLICAN, Lincoln? Yes, President Obama is called the "forbidden foreigner" in Deuteronomy 17:15(ONLY NON-ANGLO-SAXON EVER IN 6,000 YEARS TO LEAD AN ISRAELITE NATION BY THE SEED OF JOSEPH(this includes our brother England & the scattered Jews, and by our own accord)! A woman's "intellectualizing"(1st SIN) began man's age & now her "intellectualizg" is about to end man's age! In fact, as wriiten in Ezekiel 13:18: "Thus said the Sovereign Yahweh: Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of my people and will you save the souls alive that come unto you? Watch! It also is written that our CREATOR WILL SEVERELY PUNISH US, NOT THE SELF-PROFESSED "ANTI-CHRIST"(MARXIST) OBAMA, who promised OUR OWN "WOMEN ALONE" who made him OUR ANTI-CHRIST(MARXIST)President to have a "fundamental transformation of our government into marxism(Anti-Christ like Islam, but unlike Islam, Marxism even denies the very existance of the set-apart spiritual world, which also written to be the ONLY SIN THAT NEVER CAN BE FORGIVEN, EITHER IN THIS WORLD OR THE NEXT! Welcome to man's world, even before Cain, the first muderer was born and most likely even this murder was arranged by the MOTHER! WATCH! Just saying what's written...
Posted by Don from the Republic of Lakotah on 09/24/12 10:39 AM
Excellent! Leftists seem to believe that government is incapable of sin, while corporations are the definition of sin.
Posted by Peter VC on 09/24/12 08:15 AM
Cool analysis. Do you intend to interview Prof. Frank Van Dun (U-Ghent) anytime soon? He is the total opposite of this crank!
Posted by Libertarian Jerry on 09/24/12 07:36 AM
Good article. Prof.Dworkin represents the typical Limousine Liberal Leftist. Do as I say not as I do. He's the kind of person who every Spring goes to his tax accountant and takes every write off and deduction he can,puts his money in tax free endowments and then chastises the rest of us for not wanting to pay our "fair share." These people are at the spearhead of Cultural Marxism and are hypocrites to boot.