Citizens United… For Corporate Control of Politics?

Even as a pre-law student and political science major, I have to admit I am not always up-to-date on Supreme Court cases. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, however, was something that even the mainstream media, which does not cover the majority of Supreme Court decisions, could not ignore.

The actual implications may be different than the potential, and according to Andrew Reeves, Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, the answers are yet to come.

“The decision is likely to influence campaigns, but we’ll have to wait to see exactly how,” Reeves said.  “We will want to look at how much corporations will spend and on whose behalf.”

The Roberts Court handed down a landmark campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. FEC

Special interest control over Congress is something we, as Americans, have come to accept as the norm. Although there are constant complaints about how corporate dollars are running our country, there really have been conscious efforts by the courts and the legislative branch to limit the spending of corporations. Now, however, the Roberts Court has undone so much of this with just one decision. If a company wants to donate to a campaign, they can spend it directly from their treasury.

Professor Reeves noted that this decision is a contrast to past campaign finance reform efforts.

“Something remarkable about this decision is that it over turns the idea that corporations don’t have the same rights as individuals in terms of speech,” Reeves said.  “In that respect, it’s quite a departure from recent campaign finance decisions.”

Foreign corporations also were given the opportunity to add their literal two cents to the political sphere, as under this decision they are now able to donate, although not directly, through their American subsidiaries.

I fear that if something drastic is not done, our government, already ruled by the wealthy, will become a bonafide aristocracy. An individual should be able to donate whatever he or she chooses to whatever candidate he or she desires; however, a corporation with millions of dollars should not be given this same right. And even if special interest dollars do not come surging onto the political scene, we should certainly not provide the opportunity for that to occur.

About Deanna Falcone

Deanna Falcone (CAS '11) is a liberal political columnist for the Quad. She is a political science major and is originally from Danbury, Connecticut.

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