American Democracy for Sale
Supreme Court lifts corporate spending limits
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
The ruling is based on the fallacy of “corporate personhood”—the idea that corporations have the same rights as individuals—and the bizarre concept that money is equivalent to speech, and therefore protected under the First Amendment.
The notion of corporate personhood dates back to the 1819 Supreme Court ruling of *Dartmouth College v. Woodward*, where Chief Justice John Marshall offered the majority opinion that corporations were recognized as having the right to contract and that those rights should be treated the same as the rights of individuals.
The problem with this is that if given the rights of citizens, a corporation should logically have the right to vote in an election. However, corporations are not people. They are non-sentient entities made up of a collection of self-interested, wealthy individuals. What this recent ruling does is essentially remove any restrictions on the amount of money a corporation is allowed to spend financing a candidate, giving these groups of wealthy individuals power to sway elections in favor of their own self-interest. This completely defeats the purpose of giving each individual only one vote, taking away any illusion of a fair playing field.
Already, corporations have an undue level of influence on our government through lobbying, and we can only expect that influence to grow now that they are allowed even more direct control over the policy positions that candidates take. Meanwhile, the voice of the average American, who cannot afford to spend millions on advertising, will be drowned out and politicians will continue to pursue a pro-corporate agenda. This agenda could include protection for massive pharmaceutical and health insurance companies and defense contractors. Politicians will feel greater pressure to vote the way these groups want them to, as opposed to their constituents, and, when they do listen to constituents, many will have been duped into believing that what is best for the corporation is best for them.
The end result could be a gutting of environmental regulations, pollution of drinking water, EPA protection of polluters, and more wars that the defense contractors and oil companies will benefit from. For anybody concerned for the future of democracy and individual liberty, and against unchallengeable corporate dictatorships, this is a dark day. And, with a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, it will be nearly impossible to overturn anytime soon.
More by this Author