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Supreme Court Gives Green Light to Corporations to Fund Elections

Posted on February 1, 2010

Early Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected campaign spending limits on corporations with a 5-4 vote that opens the floodgates to what many fear could become corporate-sponsored elections. The Justices struck down a long-standing ban on corporate spending on candidates. Since 1907, the nation’s campaign finance laws have prevented corporate spending on candidates up for election.

In 1947, that ban was extended to unions and in 2002, the McCain-Feingold bill further extended the ban to cover loopholes, including restricting corporate-funded election ads 30 days before an election.

Judge Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision for the court saying that the marketplace of ideas includes corporations, which represent a significant segment of society. He suggested that government interference might amount to censorship since the First Amendment guarantees free speech. I didn’t know corporations had a right to Free Speech. Sounding like a frightening chapter out of the book, The Corporation, which outlines how our laws give corporations rights and privileges, but corporations have none of the downside of personhood. A corporation can’t be charged with murder, even though some of its actions can lead to the death of others.

The Center for Media & Democracy and Public Citizen, both advocacy groups, are circulating a petition, Americans Before Corporations, to pass a constitutional amendment to restore humans to the center of the political process, not corporations.

Public Citizen has prepared a video on what is it planning in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. Their Web site with the petition is Don’t Get Rolled. No one imagined we would ever need to specify that laws belong to people not corporations. The case before the court was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.