Century-old precedent barring direct corporate spending to control election outcomes is under attack
Last updated November 30, 2009
ReclaimDemocracy.org chose not to engage in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in this case as we have in two related cases in recent years (Randall v. Sorrell and Nike v. Kasky). We knew some of our close allies (see below) would engage and we believe there is benefit in different organizations delivering the consistent message about the illegitimacy of corporations wielding political “rights.”
At least two amicus briefs filed in support of the appellee (the FEC) directly raise arguments against corporate personhood. It is the centerpiece of one written by Jeffrey Clements on behalf of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy; Women’s International League for Peace & Democracy; Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, et al. Read their press release here.
Image source: Wall Street Journal
The other brief was submitted by Demos on behalf of the American Independent Business Alliance. AMIBA’s participation illuminates the stark contrast between a group truly representing America’s small businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing global corporations. The Chamber argues for letting corporations dominate elections even more thoroughly. AMIBA’s press release offers an idea of the main argument, or see the full brief.
A ruling is likely by January of 2010.
Notable coverage from other sources (prior to Sept 8)
- The Supreme Court blog has a case summary and links to every brief filed in the case. For a comprehensive overview, see Rick Hasen’s case preview (pdf). Oral argument recording and transcript and some post-argument reports are available at Election Law Blog.
- On Sept 22, the NY Times devoted this editorial to rejecting corporate personhood, though they still used the term corporate rights, rather than privileges.
- The Wall St Journal noticed Justice Sotomayor’s critique of corporate personhood during oral argument.
- Corporations Are Not People by Jamie Raskin (NPR)
- Supreme Court to Hear Key Case…by Meg White (Buzzflash)
- The Real Court Radicals by E.J. Dionne, Jr., Washington Post column
- Keep My Investments Out Of Politics by Ciara Torres-Spelliscy in Forbes magazine
- A Century-Old Principle: Keep Corporate Money Out of Elections by Adam Cohen,NY Times, Aug. 11
- Public Citizen created the website DontGetRolled.org with additional information and action suggestions.
- For opposing viewpoints, see the website of Citizens United.
Read more on the underlying issue of Corporate Personhood