The court has allowed major corporations and other special interests to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into our elections, effectively buying up chunks of our federal, state and local governments. It's time to choke off this corrupting flow of money. To do that, we need a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and declare that only people are people.
During the 2008 election, a conservative non-profit organization called "Citizens United" produced Hillary: The Movie, a documentary critical of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Because of the political nature of the movie and Citizens United’s plan to air it on cable television, the movie was deemed an "electioneering communication" by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and so was subject to rules governing the production of political ads. Citizens United sued to overturn the FEC decision, eventually taking its case to the Supreme Court.
After two hearings, a 5-4 majority of the high court ruled that corporations, unions and other special interests have a constitutional right to spend as much as they like to advocate the election or defeat of political candidates. Laws that bar those interests from contributing directly to candidates remain in place but the ruling lifted controls that had been around for decades on “independent” political spending.
Since the decision, that independent spending has skyrocketed. Campaign spending figures compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics indicate that “independent” groups put more than $1 billion into the 2012 election, with more than $300 million of that coming from groups that do not disclose their donors.