Supreme Court overturns precedent on campaign spending


January 21, 2010 by Jason Brown

It was announced today by the Supreme Court that they would not uphold a precedent that restricted spending by corporations in political campaigns at the federal, state and local levels. The decision rolls back restrictions in place since 1947.  Corporations and Labor Unions can now run ads and campaigns directly against political candidates instead of being routed though Political Action Committees (PACs). 

As many reactions have suggested this will most likely lead to a rush of corporate spending before the upcoming Congressional elections.  Dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens in a 90-page dissent wrote: “While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”  Some are calling this the final blow to American Democracy, while supporters see it as a step in the right direction in expanding and protecting First Amendment Rights for American Citizens.

Many groups are now calling for a campaign to abolish corporate personhood, which they believe would reduce their ability to overpower democratic institutions and processes. Here is a list of groups working toward such a solution and corporate accountability in general:


6 thoughts on “Supreme Court overturns precedent on campaign spending

  1. todrobbins says:

    Totally ridiculous. I just signed the petition at Move To Amend before reading this post.

  2. J. Madson says:

    This links in with a post I put up here last year where Colbert attacked the idea of corporate personhood and traced its history in brilliant fashion.

  3. todrobbins says:

    Thanks for resharing that one J., a classic exposé

  4. Tom Degan says:

    Are corporations really persons?

    Do corporations think?

    Do corporations grieve when a loved one dies as a result of a lack of adequate health care?

    If a corporation ever committed an unspeakable crime against the American people, could IT be sent to federal prison? (Note the operative word here: “It”)

    Has a corporation ever given its life for its country?

    Has a corporation ever been killed in an accident as the result of a design flaw in the automobile it was driving?

    Has a corporation ever written a novel that inspired millions?

    Has a corporation ever risked its life by climbing a ladder to save a child from a burning house?

    Has a corporation ever won an Oscar? Or an Emmy? Or the Nobel Peace Prize? Or the Pulitzer Prize in Biography?

    Has a corporation ever been shot and killed by someone who was using an illegal and unregistered gun?

    Has a corporation ever paused to reflect upon the simple beauty of an autumn sunset or a brilliant winter moon rising on the horizon?

    If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise if there are no corporations there to hear it?

    Should corporations kiss on the first date?

    Our lives – yours and mine – have more worth than any corporation. To say that the Supreme Court made a awful decision on Thursday is an understatement. Not only is it an obscene ruling – it’s an insult to our humanity.

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  5. M.Galt says:

    I would expect from a site called “The Mormon worker” that you would understand the concept of individuals grouping together for a collective purpose. Sure a corporation has never done any of the things you listed, the people who are represented by the corporation have though. If you followed the history of the case that was brought to the Justices you would see that a group of people who for organizations sake was incorporated, (Not your classic Microsoft/Ford corporation) produced a movie as an act of political speech that without being a corporation would not have been possible. This movie was an act of their combined belief or as we in America like to call it “free speech” they had their voices blocked when the political machine apposed to their view filed law suits under campaign finance reform.

    You have to understand that a corporation is not always a big evil thing that commies/socialists/progressives are required to hate. All sorts of organizations incorporate for tax purposes because they don’t want to be held personally liable should their venture go south. Being incorporated is actually a benefit to the little guys, it allows a group of likeminded people to organize their voices in such a way that they can organize funds in an on the table legal way without entangling their personal finances into their political action.

    A good sign that this aspect of campaign finance reform was a bad idea is that both Republicans and Democrats are for it. Most of the time when power brokers are coming together on this or that I get scared that the personal liberties of the citizens are taking a hit.

  6. fishstilldie says:

    Bro/sis. M.Galt,

    Thank you for your throughts. I think you raise a valid caution to those who demonize with a broad stroke corporations. Of course you are correct that many incorated entities such as labor unions and non-profits are legal persons as well, with the idea that the individuals protected from liability. However, with the for-profit corporation, there is a meeting of some very dangerous elements: the legal obligation to shareholders to maximize profit, and the amount of resources some corporations can mobilize to defeat communities, individuals, and sway political decision making. Of course, ultimately the individuals involved are responsible, but it gets messy when individuals are constrained by strucutural frameworks like the profit-motive.

    I think it is interesting to ponder the implications of corporate personhood on the small organizations you highlight. I think a creative solution is needed that keeps large corporations accountable to the communities where they operate, and preserve a measure of individual freedom.

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