The case trying the issue the power of government to limit corporate campaign spending for “Hillary: the movie” warns us that the High (don’t I wish) Court may overturn a century of legislation regarding these laws. If these laws are declared unconstitutional, the already overwhelming advantage of big money over politics will likely become a monopoly resulting in virtually no voter control of government.
Beginning early in the last century, Congress and many states realized that unlimited campaign spending by corporations would distort the election process because they are able to quickly gather funds and spend them to sway public opinion.
Individual voters, and even groups of voters cannot match this ability and the result is to skew elections toward what corporations want.
The underpinning of the challenge to such campaign finance restrictions is the claim that it transgresses the right of free speech of the corporations. But do or even should corporations have First Amendment rights?
Not until late in the 19th century were corporations recognized in the law as “persons”. Until then they had, correctly in my opinion, been deemed artificial entities and not entitled to rights as such, but only the individual owners had rights as citizens. With this Supreme Court decision, which came as a backdoor and unexamined point, the legal landscape of America has been changed dramatically.
There is no logic to granting corporations rights as citizens. They are a creation of government, not a person. There is no need to grant them separate rights from those of the owners. And there is much harm in doing so.
We are in a descending crisis of citizen control of government today. Monied interests dominate Congress through their extravagant lobbying. To allow them an unfettered ability to also flood campaigns with money will deprive private citizens of what little impact and control of the political process we have left.
The Court should deny the claims presented by “Citizens United”, the group challenging the laws, and reaffirm the right of government to curtail and limit corporate spending on campaigns. The real need is to further limit spending on public affairs and extend lobbying limits. Ultimately, what we need is public campaign financing and even stricter campaign financing laws.
If the Court overturns these laws as it seems poised to do, it is time for a Constitutional Amendment stripping corporations of citizenship and returning government to the people.