Corporate Personhood (Citizens United v. FEC)
Citizens United v FEC grants corporate personhood permitting virtually unlimited political expenditures through Super PAC, nonprofit organizations, etc. Citizens United was possible because of two preceding decisions (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976 and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 1978). Their interrelations are explained in layman’s’ terms by an article from Huffington Post and elsewhere.
In the Citizens United decision on 21 January 2010, the Supreme Court narrowly (5-4) decided to extend Corporation Personhood to include freedom of speech, prohibiting the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation. The principles articulated by the Supreme Court in the case have also been extended to for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.
The Court was in substantial disagreement. John Paul Stevens, the most senior justice in the minority, assigned the dissent to David Souter, who announced his retirement from the Court while he was working on it. The final draft went beyond critiquing the majority. Toobin described it as “air[ing] some of the Court’s dirty laundry,” writing that Souter’s dissent accused Roberts of having manipulated Court procedures to reach his desired result – an expansive decision that, Souter claimed, changed decades of election law and ruled on issues neither party to the litigation had presented.
The decision has had a rapid effect on elections, increasing in six years from almost zero to $1.2 billion. It has been a major boost to Oligarchy. Much of the funds cannot be followed from original source to its impact on the elections. It has acquired the name “Dark Money” for its un-traceability.
A leading opponent of Citizens United is the “Move to Amend” coalition, a California nonprofit (#3604575) incorporated in 2013 as a successor to its original formation in 2009. As of mid-2017, their website indicates over 40 affiliated organization have joined with them, and nearly 500 more support them. Their approach is to persuade members of congress to support their Amendment (H.J.Res.48) and at least 40 members have committed themselves as of May 2017.
Taking the position that persuading members of congress is not likely, once the Initiative Amendment is in place, reversal of the Citizens United decision will require a Direct Constitutional Initiative (perhaps two) and will take 3 to 5 years.