Are corporations living, breathing beings? The answer to this question is no but a cursory examination of the latest campaign finance laws might lead one to think that the electoral system thinks they are. The idea of a corporation being a living breathing thing is an absurd one almost absurd as the idea that corporations deserve to have the right to free speech and the protections of the First Amendment. Despite this corporations and other organizations such as unions were granted free speech rights through the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling on a case that was argued before the court that is known as Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. The outcome of that ruling transformed the way that American politics operated particularly during elections.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the case that is casually known as Citizens United has resulted in a number of changes that threaten to make the electoral process far less equitable than it should be. One of these changes involves the way that political campaigns are allowed to be financed in the United States. One of the structures that are used to fund political campaigns in the American electoral process is an entity that is known as the PAC. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Citizens United case there were limitations on the amounts of money that a political action committee could take from an outside donor. The limitations regarding political donations to political action committees typically meant that a single individual could donate no more than $2500 to a political action committee. These limitations also involved prohibitions around who exactly could make political donations to a political action committee. Former campaign finance rules that established standards around the kinds of political donations that a political action committee could accept prevented unions and corporations from making donations of any sort to political action committees. The Citizens United case however has changed all of these old campaign finance rules in a major way.
These days under the new era of campaign finance rules corporations and unions are allowed to give political donations to political action committees that are commonly known as Super PACs. These new super political action committees have changed the way that American politics are done and have allowed corporations and other entities to have an outsized voice in the electoral process when compared to actual human citizens.
An organization that is known as End Citizens United is hoping to put a stop to this. The group is organizing itself to oppose the changes that Citizens United made to campaign finance rules by putting more campaign reform advocates on the ballot. In a sense Citizens United is fighting fire with fire as it is a political action committee itself. However it plans to use its ability to raise money to support candidates that run on platforms that involve overhauling the campaign finance system to make it more equitable and democratic. According to USA Today, End Citizens United was able to raise several million dollars towards its goal of supporting campaign finance reform advocates.
For more information about End Citizens United, just click here.