Is money constitutionally protected free speech?
We say no! On January 21, 2010, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a bitterly divided Supreme Court overturned a century of established precedent by ruling that corporate spending on candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment.In so doing, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy effectively declared that corporations – legal entities defined by, and subject to, the laws of individual states – are indistinguishable from people with respect to federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The decision likewise obliterates the common-sense distinction between corporate money and constitutionally protected free speech.
“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
– President Barack Obama
“I think that there’s going to be, over time, a backlash, … when you see the amounts of union and corporate money that’s going to go into political campaigns.”
– Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona)
“This decision was a terrible mistake. Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president.”
– Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin)
“With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars.”
– Ralph Nader
“There is no doubt that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission … signals the end of whatever legitimate claim could otherwise have been made by the Roberts Court to an incremental and minimalist approach to constitutional adjudication, to a modest view of the judicial role vis-a-vis the political branches, or to a genuine concern with adherence to precedent.”
– Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School
The first midterm election since the Citizens United decision has now come and gone, and the grave concerns expressed by the above speakers and many others have proven prescient.
Read the whole article at: OpenSecrets.org
For more information, please see what has happened since then.