By Elizabeth Lindquist
Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court made one of its most controversial decisions in Citizens United v. FEC. The court essentially re-affirmed the ideas that corporations are people and money is speech. They said corporate and union spending to elect candidates does not result in “corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Months later, in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, the court allowed for what we now know as the super PAC.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his scathing Citizens United dissent: “At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”
Since then, a 5-4 majority of the Court has reaffirmed and expanded on these ideas in a variety of cases, including last years’ McCutcheon v. FEC.
Every year on the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, Rockford-area citizens have gathered to protest and educate the public on the effects of it. This year, Jan. 21, 2015, Rockford Represent.Us will hold a brief street protest from 6 to 6:30 p.m. at the intersection of North Alpine and East State. At 6:30 p.m., there will be a teach-in on the subject at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford. The church is at 4848 Turner St., Rockford. All are welcome.
Rockford Represent.Us seeks to raise awareness about the flaws in these decisions and the devastating effects they are having on our democratic republic. While Represent.Us Rockford’s goal is not to amend the U.S. Constitution to reverse the decision, they do not support the undermining premise of the decision. “Independent expenditures” as they exist today (candidate-supporting super PACs) do cause both corruption and the appearance of corruption. The vast majority of Americans agree. For more about Represent.Us, visit www.Represent.Us.
From the Jan. 14-20, 2015, issue