Corporations are people, money is speech.

After witnessing the deluge of outside political advertising that inundated Iowa during this latest election cycle, it’s easy to conclude that our government should place limits on political contributions and political advertising.  But our Supreme Court correctly decided in the Citizens United case that governments should not be allowed to limit the independent political expenditures of groups of people, even if they are organized as corporations.
 
Most of the corporations that make independent expenditures for or against candidates or ballot issues are simply groups of like minded people who have come together to promote their common beliefs.  They are not profit-making corporations that run businesses and sell stock on Wall Street.  Citizens United is a group of people who are organized as a corporation explicitly for the purpose of promoting a political agenda.
 
If contributions are given directly to a candidate, there is good reason for concern about bribery and corruption.  But as long as people or groups are independent of candidates and their campaigns, they should be free to spend as much of their own money as they want, and they should not have to disclose the names of contributors.  Our founding fathers published pamphlets and other communications anonymously when they advocated against their rulers and called for a revolution.  They were very much thinking about political speech when they wrote in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”

 

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