Last week, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations cannot be restricted in their political spending. With their 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court departed from over a century of precedent that had placed certain limits on corporate spending intended to influence voters. The controversial ruling has drawn criticism from many angles, including a rebuke from President Obama during the State of the Union Address.
One of the most vocal critics of the Citizens United ruling has been Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Leahy has accused the conservative majority of improper judicial activism, which he believes has endangered the integrity of political campaigns and elections. In particular, Leahy (and many others) feel strongly that the Court erred by granting First Amendment free speech rights to corporations.
Corporations may be separate legal entities, but they are not natural persons. They do not think, feel, or behave like people. Corporations, for the time being, cannot vote in elections. They do, however, have inconceivable amounts of money. The Supreme Court’s decision will allow these huge companies to spend as much as they want to confuse, harangue, and otherwise influence voters. The resulting barrage of one-sided advertisements and issue campaigns will easily drown out competing viewpoints.
The interests of individual consumers and enormous corporations are often at odds. In recent years, businesses have been successful in securing the protections of our laws at the expense of people like you and me. Unfortunately, this trend appears to be continuing at the highest levels of government.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.