By Mulligan, Sean
The Humanist , Vol. 71, No. 2
It was only a year ago that the Supreme Court handed down its controversial 5-4 decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, ruling that corporations were entitled to the same free speech rights as citizens. The decision faced immediate criticism from President Obama, who stated: "This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates" During his 2010 State of the Union address the president disparaged it again as "open[ing] the floodgates for special interests--including foreign corporations--to spend without limit in our elections." This comment prompted Supreme Court Justice Alito to shake his head and apparently mouth the words, "not true" In this year's State of the Union, any discussion of Citizens United was conspicuously absent (absent too were Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas.) In the 2010 election cycle alone, it is estimated that nearly 15 percent of all money spent would have been illegal prior to the Citizens United ruling. Experts predict that this number will be even higher for the 2012 campaign.
Named 2010's "most valuable idea" by the Nation magazine, the campaign to amend the Constitution to specifically deny corporations the same rights as people is by no means defunct. One such amendment was proposed by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) in last year's Congressional session. Similarly, state senator Virginia Lyons of Vermont introduced a resolution earlier this year supporting "an amendment to the United States Constitution ... which provides that corporations are not persons under the laws of the United States." The motion passed 26 to 4. One organization, Free Speech for People, released a poll revealing that the vast majority of Americans--four out of five--support a constitutional amendment asserting that corporations are not people. …