Primer on Citizens United
Jeff Clements has a great article in YES! magazine reviews the history and horror of Citizens United, and what we can do about it. Selections below, but read the whole thing!
Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Americans cannot prevent corporations from spending unlimited money to control elections, politicians, and policy. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court ignored the fact that corporations are creations of state law with government-derived advantages and labeled them, in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, “voices,” “speakers,” and yes, a “disadvantaged person or class.” In this Wonderland, corporations are people, corporate money is “speech,” and laws restricting corporate political spending violate the First Amendment.
Nearly 80 percent of the public opposes the holding in Citizens United and supports a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision, according to multiple polls. If Americans so clearly oppose the fabrication of “corporate people” who can use the Constitution to strike down the real people’s laws, how did the folly of Citizens United ever happen?
Citizens United, and the response of Americans across the political spectrum to the raw assertion of corporate power, has ignited a national movement. A large, diverse, and effective campaign for a “People’s Rights Amendment,” a 28th Amendment to our Constitution to overturn corporate rights and restore the Bill of Rights for people, is growing rapidly.
Congress is now considering at least 10 different constitutional amendment proposals to reverse Citizens United and renew democracy. Cities as big as Los Angeles and New York and towns as small as those in New England that govern by open town meetings have passed resolutions that condemn Citizens United and call for a constitutional amendment to overturn it. State legislators, state attorneys general, lawyers, and law professors from Montana to Massachusetts, Maine to New Mexico, are challenging Citizens United directly and pushing for the 28th Amendment. More than 1,000 business leaders have joined the movement and more are doing so every day. And everywhere, people are standing up—and occupying—to defend what belongs to all of us and to take responsibility once again to ensure that corporations serve the people, rather than the other way around.