Monday, February 22, 2010

SCOTUS says corps can advertise for campaigns

A friend and avid blog reader (my favorite kind) asked me to weigh in on the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in favor of corporations advertising in favor of or against federal election candidates. The case is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Corporate contributions to individual campaigns remain illegal. Now corporations, previously limited to campaign donations through their own political action committees (PAC's) or independent PAC's, may now advertise and "spend freely on political causes," as put it here.

You mean corporations have First Amendment rights too? Outrageous. As the Chicago Tribune pointed out, corporations have always been able to spend freely in state elections in Illinois. While Illinois is a terribly corrupt state, corporate donations are hardly the root of the problem. This is not the end of democracy as we know it. Contributions to candidates for federal office are not made in secret. Anyone can look up individual and PAC contributions at various websites. If a big greedy corporation makes a big splash in favor of or against a particular candidate or member of Congress, then that's public knowledge, and voters can take that into consideration when they go to the polls.

Our democracy--and federal elections--will be just fine.

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