In 2010, Citizens United v FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court in its ruling gave corporations the right to freedom of speech and to spend unlimited money for political campaigns. This decision has put democracy in danger. Further reasons as to why it has made the situation even worse are:
- According to the decision, some groups have to reveal their financers, but Federal Election Commission’s rules do not implement many disclosure laws. As a result, donors and groups spending money for political ads are not disclosed due to technicalities. Even when a group discloses its expenditure, the face of real source can be hidden. In 2010 election, groups that hid their donors said they spent more than $130 million. According to the Campaign Finance Institute, $280 million was spent by outside groups to influence elections. This was double the money spent when compared to 2008 elections. Voters have all the right to be informed, but they can be misled too.
- First Amendment gives freedom of speech to corporatists. Freedom of speech means money and money means democracy.
- Money pumped in by corporate giants can influence the political process and election results. As soon as the Citizens United decision was out, a poll was conducted where 78% of people said that corporations should be allowed to spend in a limited manner and 70% said corporations already have a strong foothold over elections.
- Politicians can be influenced easily by donors rather than by views of constituents. The money and power, in addition to lobbying and donations, means that wealthy can get policies reinforced to their advantage.
- Voices of the people can be drowned. When corporate giants control media with their message, the voices of the public can be unheard. The question is how much of a say does a citizen has over policies.
- Unlimited spending can be bad for business individuals and shareholders. Government contracts and regulations can be given to those economic players in power.
- The decision led to the formation of super PACs (Political Action Committee) where they can accept unlimited money from corporations, multimillionaires and unions to buy advertising. Many corporations have their own PACs. From time to time, they have to reveal their donor. On the other hand, social welfare groups and non-profit organizations do not have to reveal their source.
The above reasons suggest why Citizens United ruling was wrong and it needs to be overturned because its negative outcome outweighs the good intentions.