SCOTUS: Corporations May Spend Freely on Political Campaigns

A Supreme Court ruling on campaign spending limits was just handed down:

Supremes"By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

Critics of the stricter limits have argued that they amount to an unconstitutional restraint of free speech, and the court majority apparently agreed."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined  John Paul Stevens in the dissent. Said Stevens: "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."


  1. Husky14620 says

    This is exactly why we need a Constitutional amendment that stipulates that corporations are NOT persons, they are artificial entities only created to protect individual persons from liability, and are therefore NOT entitled to any of the rights enumerated in the Constitution

  2. E says

    Many Politicians are corrupt as it is, they do not need more incentive. This shameful ruling will only exacerbate the problem of Politicians “allegedly” being bought by lobbyists and corporations to do their bidding. This moves this country more towards the direction of Capitalism and away from Democracy. Corporations will “buy” their politicians and get their way and the average American will have to suffer the consequences. I’d be interested to find out if any of the Judges received “incentive” for their ruling.

  3. says

    >>The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation<< Considering that 80% or better of the public make their “informed” decisions based on a political advertisement, this does not bode well for any of us. It’s not enough that our governement is basically run by lobbyist and special interest groups (i.e. whoever gives the most money), but now it’s okay for these very same companies to freely promote their own agenda and sway the average voter with lies over the airways. Frankly, I think there should be limits on our elected representatives. It’s all about power, money and presige. I would guess that the majority of Congress couldn’t make a real living outside of Washington if they tried. When they’re thrown out, the only thing they can do is become a lobbyist. This country is a complete disgrace to the true meaning of “democracy.” And Husky, I totally agree with your position. Apparently these dimwits called the SCOTUS, can’t seem to separate themselves from their political affiliations and make an informed decision. Truly shameful.

  4. says

    this is devastating news for the country. i can’t even imagine what the next political cycle is going to look and feel like.

    in related opinion, we certainly don’t want marriage equality to ever appear before this current SCOTUS.

  5. Ryan says

    Maybe the world as we know it will truely end in 2012.

    Big Oil, Big Gas, Big Pharma, & the banks all throwing thier BILLIONS at the No regulations & free market Republicans.

    Republicans will campaign on a platform of Change and win back all their lost seats and the white house for DECADES to come.

  6. Christopher says

    On days like today I can’t help giving in to my most cynical impulses. Democracy in America is dead, except for the notion that the majority can vote to take away the rights of the minority–which this SCOTUS will undoubtedly affirm when it gets the chance.

  7. Gregg says

    Husky14620 is absolutely correct. Applying the First Amendment to a corporation, which obviously is not a human being, is ludicrous and this decision will devastate the US political landscape.

  8. androjai says

    Agreed Nick! Democracy is now dead, free to be bought and sold like a commodity. Rampant corruption, scandal, and bribery shall now ensue.

  9. Kelly says

    This is a great victory FOR free speech. Too bad the “liberal” block on the Court all sided with the notion that government can restrict how individuals organize to participate in the political process. For all you decrying this and denouncing the notion that corporations are “persons” under the law, who on earth do you think create, fund, and take responsibility for corporations? Corporations, unions, and non-profit institutions are just methods by which people organize. Why should some wealthy individual be free to buy ads as he likes, but I and my like-minded friends can’t pool our meager resources to do the same without getting permissioin of the government? If you don’t like how an organization spends its money on political ads, sell their stock, boycott their products, critize them publicly. But don’t use the government to stop them from voicing their views. What the hell kind of “liberal” thinking is that?!

  10. Hank says

    It’s the “Shiawise Decision” or sets the foundation for it that will let corporations become the dominant economic and political entities on the planet.

    We get all the shit of Cyberpunk and none of the cool.

  11. William says

    “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” President Eisenhower, January 1961

    We indeed seem to be living in an age of precipitous decline towards fascism. Even up here in Canada our Prime Minister has unilaterally suspended parliament until after the Vancouver olympics. Meanwhile young men and women from both our countries are sent to their deaths to bring our ‘democracy’ to countries caught in the Dark Ages. Welcome to the new Dark Age.

  12. Shane says

    This is a very bad thing. It will have tremendous negative impacts on US policies.

    Kelly, you are a short-sighted idiot.

  13. Erik says

    And, just think, these 5 will get to decide on gay marriage!

    Every horrible, dystopian sci-fi story about a world ruled by mega-corporations is about to be unleashed.


    The sky is falling, you’re just too stupid to realize it.

  14. Tyler says

    Oh look, a free speech ruling that benefits conservatives because the “public has a right to know!” I bet there aren’t any recent opinions, say less than 9 days old, where the Court shut down public dissemination of a liberal cause… I mean it would be pretty cynical of me to think so, wouldn’t it?

  15. Leonard says

    This is NOT a free speech issue. Corporations are not individuals. If you want to donate your hard earned earnings, then do so, but to compare your individual donations to the VERY deep pockets of a potential campaign donation from a corporation is idiocy.

    I heard Newt Gingrich say on NPR not two hours ago how the gov’mint is restricting free speech. Corporations can say whatever the hell they want, they can’t buy votes in Congress though. Thanks to this ruling they’ll now be able to.

    ” Too bad the “liberal” block on the Court all sided with the notion that government can restrict how individuals organize to participate in the political process.”

    There are restrictions because they are needed. They’re not arbitrary Orwellian policies. The book on corporate corruption and campaign finance is in it’s umpteenth revision. Corporations becoming financially involved in politics is a danger.

    “Why should some wealthy individual be free to buy ads as he likes, but I and my like-minded friends can’t pool our meager resources to do the same without getting permissioin of the government”

    There’s nothing stopping you from doing this. If you want to get needlessly complicated, you could set up a PAC. Conservatives think people are stupid, because they use the most inane arguments. Newt Gingrich even argued that this decision was good for the middle class!

    The tidal wave of cash that will flow from corporations to those politicians that support capitalist legislation and corporate interests will drown out the voice of the common voter.

  16. Paul says

    Kelly is wrong. People have always had the ability to gather and organize and come to a consensus on sending their money individually to a particular candidate’s campaign.

  17. Rodney says

    I would have bet the house the vote was going to be 5-4 for reversal.

    Unfortunately, all the conservatives on the court are relatively young (the oldest being in their mid 70s). Both Ruth Bader Ginsberg and John Paul Stevens (justices on the side of democracy) are older than any of them.

  18. Carlos says

    And so begins a new age where politicians where openly, blatantly, and brazenly bought and paid for in ofice.

    (As a curious aside. Will this decision put the muffia out of business or make things easier for them?)

  19. ED2 says

    I have the horrible suspicion that this is the culmination of decades long planning by a small powerful group who have global domination in mind. It feels like we’re living in the “Lord of the Rings” except I’m not sure who can help us fight.

    Loosely connecting the dots; through repugnican means, SCOTUS votes in the worst president on record who drains the economy, distracts us with unending, expensive and in some cases illegal wars based on falsified premises. Then he can change the courts for lifetimes to come. And so forth and so forth. And no we are here. They have all their ducks in a row and they’re just waiting to bleed us dry.