When Corporations Become People

In a decision that could undermine the integrity of federal and state elected institutions, a divided Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruled that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech means that corporations can spend unlimited sums to help elect favored candidates or defeat those they oppose. The ruling reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between special interests and electoral politics.

U.S. Programs grantees Doug Kendall of the Constitutional Accountability Center and Susan Liss of the Brennan Center for Justice spoke at OSI on the implications of the ruling.  Both Doug and Susan were involved in the litigation, have spoken and written about the issues involved before and since the decision, and are deeply engaged in finding solutions to the problems the ruling engenders.

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The "theoretical limit" of corporate spending on any particular thing, now including political campaigns, is not their annual net income or "profits" as you say. Spending capacity is more related to the balance sheet and to future cash flow prospects, and in the case of Exxon Mobile is a heck of a lot larger than annual net income. If you want people to take this issue seriously, you should at least have your facts right when speaking about what is theoretically possible, and probably offer some perspective as to what is practically possible, as I am sure that suggesting the (incorrect) theoretical spending levels is not helping move discussion forward.

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