The Court’s action dramatically dilutes the vote and the voice of every American who does not control a large corporate treasury. The decision unleashes billions of dollars in corporate money to dominate legislatures and elections.
Pretending that corporate wealth is “speech” beyond the ability of the American people to regulate will cost our democracy dearly. To illustrate the magnitude of the potential financial corruption of our elections, compare the amount of corporate money now available to influence elections to the level of fundraising before Citizens United, when corporate money in politics could be regulated. Corporate profits alone – – after taxes – – amounted to over $1.1 trillion in 2006. (Statistical Abstract of the United States 2008, Table 767). Under pre-Citizens United rules, the average House candidate in 2008 spent $1.3 million, and the average Senate candidate spent $3.1 million. (Center for Responsive Politics, Price of Admission, 2008).
Before Citizens United, it was undisputable that corporate influence distorted our political process. After Citizens United, with over a trillion dollars in corporate money available for misuse in elections, it is hard to dispute that the Court has broken our democracy.
Think corporations have too much power? Think corporate money has too much influence? Think maybe your vote and your voice just doesn’t seem to count for as much as the big corporations’ “voice”? Want to do something about it?
The Citizens United case says, “Too bad, you can’t.”
The problem goes beyond elections and money in politics. The Court’s distortion of the First Amendment into a corporate rights provision in Citizens United is the extreme extension of a corporate rights doctrine that the Supreme Court and lower courts have used with increasing aggression and hostility to the judgment of people and their representatives about appropriate regulations. The courts have used the fabrication of the First Amendment corporate rights doctrine to strike down a range of democratic enactments in recent years, from those concerning clean and fair elections; to environmental protection and energy; to tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and health care; to consumer protection, lottery, and gambling; to race relations, and much more.