Important Discussion – Let’s Talk About 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court Decision with a Decade of Hindsight


Posted originally on the conservative tree house on November 25, 2022 | Sundance

I have given a great deal of thought to this in the past several years and I am welcoming all opinions.  Just to let you know I intend to read every single comment, because ultimately this is important. AND I believe it will become a silent topic in the next two years [As did the recent conversation of Ballots -vs- Votes].

In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled on a campaign finance legal challenge known colloquially as The Citizens United decision.  The essence of the decision was a speech issue. In the court’s opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that limiting “independent political spending” from corporations and other groups violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

Prior to CU corporations were limited in financial spending on behalf of political campaigns just like individuals.  However, unions were not.  Organized Labor Unions could spend unlimited amounts in support of candidates.  Corporations were limited like individuals.

At the time of the January 2010 Supreme Court ruling Democrats and Barack Obama were furious.  Corporations could not form SuperPACs and spend unlimited amounts of money ‘independently’ supporting candidates.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules on coordination and communication between the political campaigns and the independent SuperPACs was/is supposed to create a firewall.  However, the obscure nature of that effort has failed miserably.

Real World Example. A SuperPAC can organize a pro-Ben rally, spend on the venue, spend on the banners, t-shirts, rally material etc., and then advertise it.  If Ben shows up to deliver a speech, he’s not breaking the rules so long as Ben and the SuperPAC didn’t coordinate the event.  Ben just shows up to share his support for the effort, thank everyone and everything is legal in the eyes of the FEC.  Yeah, it’s goofy.

More commonly as a result of the Citizens United (CU) case, massive corporate advertising (considered speech) is permitted in support of the candidate; or the corporation can organize ballot collection or get out the vote efforts, etc.  Again, as long as they do not coordinate with any “official campaign” ie. Mark Zuckerbucks, yeah, goofy.   As a result, expanded corporate spending has massive influence over U.S. elections.

♦ Oppose CU – Democrats opposed the CU decision because they had an advantage with organized labor.  Labor unions were considered a representative body of collective individual membership interests and could spend without limit on campaign support.  Organized labor unions supported democrats.   Factually, Barack Obama won his 2008 election specifically because the SEIU, AFSCME, UFCW, AFL-CIO and other organized labor supported him over Hillary Clinton.

The CU decision watered down this overall Democrat advantage because now corporations funding Republicans could counterbalance the spending support of the labor unions.  Democrats stated the CU decision would inject billions into politics and would increase corruption.

♦ PRO CU – Republicans, in a general sense, supported the CU decision mostly because it did level the field with labor unions and also because the corporate lobbyist connections to the republican party meant a lot of corporate money was available to fuel republican Super Political Action Committees (SuperPACs).  Factually, the CU decision created the ability of SuperPACs to exist.

The business of politics expanded with the CU decision and ultimately both the DNC and RNC clubs evolved to enjoy this unlimited donor spending.

The business sector of politics expanded as the financial aspects to the it grew.  SuperPACs could now fund consultants, polling firms, campaign systems and the money inside politics as a business exploded.

Now we have political campaigns where spending tens-of-millions on a single race is commonplace.  The modern ballot collection (harvesting etc) is now funded by this same flow of unlimited financial resources.

At the time of the 2010 Citizens United decision, I personally was in support of the ruling.  However, in hindsight the benefits of leveling the field with organized labor have become overshadowed by the negatives associated with corporations now in control of which candidates achieve office.

Money was always a corrupting issue and politicians working on behalf of their donors was always problematic, long before the Supreme Court CU decision.  However, CU exploded that problem on a scale that was/is almost unimaginable at the time.

A previous several million-dollar presidential campaign is now a multi-billion-dollar venture, and the corporations are purchasing every outcome.

So, here’s the question….

Knowing what you know now, how do you feel about the Citizens United decision?

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