The Citizens United Effect – The Supreme Court Sold Out Democracy

“The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC – widely acknowledged as a radical departure from precedent – defined corporate campaign spending as Constitutionally protected free speech. The Jan. 21, 2010 ruling opened the floodgates for corporations, unions, and non-profit front groups wishing to keep their funders anonymous and to spend unlimited funds on political ads.” (

Supposedly, corporations  now have constitutional rights. Limits on their political campaign spending are held to be violations of their right of free speech.: Since money is declared to be speech, some of us now have a right to much more free speech than others.

Justice Stevens’ dissenting opinion in the 2010 “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision 

“. . . corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.

             ~Supreme Court Justice Stevens, January 2010

And, of course, campaign financing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our being ruled by economic elites.  The newly created corporate constitutional rights have had a direct effect on environmental, educational, health, labor, consumer, and reproductive freedom issues among many others.

“When we begin to insist that corporate money is not ‘speech’ and that corporations are not people, we begin to take back power. Addressing the complex problem of corporate power requires, of course, more than recognition that corporations are not people. We also need a shared understanding of what corporations are and what they should and should not be doing in our national life. ….. A corporation is a creation of law, a public tool of economic policy. [Emphasis added.] If we appreciate this point, corporate “rights” are exposed as unconstitutional folly. Moreover, we can decide to create better corporations. We can require that corporations be much more effective, useful, and supportive instruments for the American people and our economy.” (Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy, Jeffery D. Clements)


Thomas Jefferson’s views on corporations

( The Nation:

Jefferson might not have wanted a lot of government, but he wanted enough government to assert the sovereignty of citizens over corporations. To his view, nothing was more important to the health of the republic.

In the early years of the 19th century, as banks and corporations began to flex their political muscles, he announced that: ‘I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.’

There are those who would have us believe that the founders intended for corporations to control our elections – and, tragically, five of these Tories sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, where they recently ruled [In 2010] that the nation’s biggest businesses may spend whatever they like to buy the results that best serve their bottom lines.” 

James Madison’s views on corporations

” …..incorporated Companies with proper limitations and guards, may in particular cases, be useful; but they are at best a necessary evil only.” [Madison quote cited from Robert L. Kerr, The Corporate Free Speech Movement.]

For the full article, and suggested readings, visit

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