Assembly: Overturn Citizens United

by Brian Leubitz

SuperPACs. They’ve changed the political landscape, for better or worse. Mostly worse.  Now, here in California, Independent Expenditures have pretty much had the same leeway as SuperPACs do on the federal level for years. But the stakes for the presidency are worth, apparently, far more for corporate special interests and billionaires than control of our Legislature.  Apparently.

But, this week the Assembly joined several other states in calling for the overturning of Citizens United:

The California Assembly yesterday approved a resolution urging Congress to overturn the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The split decision helped give rise to super PACs by allowing unlimited contributions from corporations and unions to attack or support politicians, as long as the committees don’t coordinate with candidates. The California bill, AJR 22, is part of a campaign to pass such resolutions around the country.(CalWatch)

This is a noble sentiment, and I applaud the Assembly Democrats for making it. However, let’s be real here. The Supreme Court, with its conservative core, isn’t particularly interested in seeing a return of regulated campaign finance. Since the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo case, it has all been a big race to deregulate campaigns.  SUre, there have been fits and starts of trying to come up with some way to control spending. To find some way to equalize the voice of the people, so that the rich don’t hold vastly more power than those who can’t afford to buy nationwide TV spots.

But that hasn’t happened.  Overturning Citizens United is an important step. However, as the “Move to Amend” groups are pointing out, the key underlying distortion is that for some reason the Court thinks that money is speech, and that corporations are people. It isn’t, and they aren’t.

4 thoughts on “Assembly: Overturn Citizens United”

  1. I own a corporation. It’s a binder full of papers. It’s no more a person than my shoe, car, sofa, or any other object I own. So, the fact that, the supposedly finest legal minds in the country could assert otherwise never fails to amaze me. The idea that money equals speech follows from that first bit of legal idiocy. Because, like my shoe, car, or sofa, my binder full of papers can’t really speak.

    I once took my binder to a Move to Amend meeting. Holding it up, I announced, “This is a corporation. I am a person. If you can’t tell the difference between this and me, you’re qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.” I mean, really. How tough is this?

    So MTA is right, we do need to overturn Citizens United. But, until we establish the constitutional definition of a person and of speech, the corporations will just find another way around all this. Because, unlike real people, corporations never die and they never give up. They need to be stripped of any rights granted only to living human beings. They are an artificial legal construct and need to be reined in by the people who supposedly created them and own them.

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