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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Constitutional Arguments Against the Citizens United Ruling

Yesterday, I spent most of the day at the local candidates forum held in the Blake Hotel. This included candidates from all sorts of offices including a plethora of judges. I couldn't resist asking the judicial candidates what they thought of the recent Citizens United V FEC ruling.

Because I was in Chicago, there was naturally a liberal tilt and so most of the opinions were against the ruling. Second, those that were running for the Appellete Court had to be careful because such a case may come in front of the court.

Here's the two most interesting arguments I heard. First, this ruling would in fact infringe upon people's right to free speech. This seems counter intuitive. This is how it was explained. By removing the limits, it gives corporations an unequal access to the candidates. Those without the resources to contribute in the manner that corporations have their access denied. In so doing, their free speech is infringed on.

For instance, the event I was at was free and open to the public and so it gives everyone equal access. If corporations can contribute an unlimited amount that gives them unequal access.

The other argument is that giving corporations unlimited power to contribute to campaigns lifts an entity to the status of a person. In their view, a corporation has no rights to anything free speech included. By ruling that corporations have the right to free speech, that means that corporations have the same rights as humans.

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