The Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, decided in a 5-4 decision on January 21, 2010, is a case which will live in infamy. What started out as asking permission to put a partisan movie on pay per view somehow ended up deciding that companies are people with the same free speech rights as citizens, that money equals speech, and that any limit on money spent by a corporation was a violation of their First Amendment rights, so companies should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts without even having to identify themselves. Corporations got the rights of personhood, ergo, without the responsibilities we have like spending limits, or the requirement to be publicly listed for your donation. This is not to get into the obvious inequity that corporations are really made up of other people who already have those same rights, or that corporations will have far more resources to spend with obvious financial incentives that people won’t. Seriously–what were they thinking?
Such a brazen act of judicial activism by the Roberts court was an even more partisan power grab than the decade old Bush v. Gore, which backed a partisan Secretary of State’s order that ballots in her state stop being counted so she could hurry up and award the election to the guy whose campaign she was working on. Where that decision improperly decided the outcome of one election, Citizens United has opened the floodgates for blizzards of overwhelming corporate spending in races across the country on all levels of government, from now on, unless something is done. [Read more]
You can light a birthday candle if you want to: It was a year ago Friday that the Supreme Court handed down its controversial 5-4 ruling in the case known as Citizens United, giving corporations and unions the freedom to spend as much as they like to support or attack candidates. As lawyers and advocates are discovering, it has sharply altered the debate over regulating political money. [Read more]
The case: Citizens United. The decision: In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to limit in any way the amount of money corporations can spend on attack ads or other “electioneering communications” to sway a political race.
Before Citizens United, plenty of corporate money had found its way into political PACs and other avenues to influence elections. The court also did nothing to strike down the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates or political parties.
But the decision opened a massive loophole in our country’s already-porous campaign finance system, giving corporations the green light to inject unlimited sums of cash into independent groups — 527s and 501c4s, references to their IRS tax status — that can intervene in elections.
After the January 2010 decision, many in the media reported that corporations may be skittish about fully exploiting Citizens United’s political windfall, but that proved premature. Millions of dollars began flooding into existing electioneering like Americans for Prosperity, backed by benefactors like the Koch brothers and North Carolina retail magnate Art Pope. New groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads andAmerican Crossroads GPS were quickly erected to funnel tens of millions of dollars into key congressional races. (READ MORE) [Read more]
Happy Birthday, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission!
You’re one year old today, big boy. But just think of all the fine things you’ve done already: