Citizens United


The Supreme Court wrongly decided in Citizens United that corporations have a constitutional right to spend money influencing the outcome of our elections. Although we give corporations certain privileges under law (like limited liability), never before did a Court find a constitutional right for corporations to bankroll electoral campaigns. The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United unleashed a torrent of money into our campaigns. For the first time in more than a century, corporations are now allowed to dip into their shareholders' funds and spend those funds to directly influence federal elections in ways shareholders may not agree with. This newfound power gives corporations even more sway over public policy than they already have with their armies of hired lobbyists and Political Action Committee contributions. Our democracy is supposed to be of, by and for the people -- not of, bought and paid for by special interests.

Position of Common Cause Texas

While it is possible that a change of Court personnel could lead to a future Court reversing the Citizens United ruling, The best way to reverse the Court's holding is to amend the Constitution, just as the people have done 27 times before. An amendment would be a permanent solution, rather than having the Court change our constitution every twenty years as the justices change.

What Should the Constitutional Amendment Establish?

This amendment should establish two principles:

  • unlimited spending on politics is not free speech, and
  • corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as real people.

Before Citizens United, it had always been common sense that corporations are artificial entities of the state. We agree with Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent to Citizens United when he wrote that corporations "are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

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