Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Citizens Repudiate Unlimited Corporate Campaign Spending

Last month's 5-4 ruling by the US Supreme Court, which said that corporations have a constitutional right to unlimited expenditures in elections, has sparked outrage among voters of all stripes. According to a poll released by the Washington Post today, four in five voters oppose the ruling. Two of every three voters (65% ) "strongly oppose" the ruling. Opposition was at super-majority strength in both parties -- 85% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, and 81% of independents.

The high court ruling that prompted this united opposition came in a case called Citizens United v FEC. That Jan. 21 decision threw out over a century of federal law barring corporations from participating in elections. And it's just common sense that corporations can be excluded from elections. Corporations, for instance, don't vote. People vote. And corporations cannot write checks. People write checks; they may choose to do so from a corporate check-book, but it's a person who make the decision to spend money and where that money should come from. Insisting, as a 5-4 majority of the US Supreme Court has now done, that corporations (and unions and other non-persons) have a constitutional right to spend money on elections means that people who have access to corporate check-books have more abilities than to people who do not have access to corporate check-books. That's why so many voters, in both parties, are outraged.

ICPR has a Q&A on the ruling, including its effect on Illinois' new contribution limits law, here.

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