January 18, 2011 – The U.S. Supreme Court on January 21, 2010, scuttled the longstanding American tradition of prohibiting overt corporate spending to influence elections in its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
On the one-year anniversary of the decision, this report offers an assessment of its impact. We provide a brief history of the legal restrictions on corporate involvement in elections and the events that led to the Citizens United v. FEC decision. We document the dramatic increase in outside spending in the 2010 elections and assess the enhancement of power that corporate lobbyists now enjoy. Finally, we discuss a comprehensive package of legislative and constitutional reforms that can be pursued at the federal, state and local levels to mitigate the damage caused by Citizens United v. FEC—or to reverse it altogether.