When the Supreme Court handed down its historic decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission on January 21, 2010, some legal analysts and political commentators warned that it would, in effect, open the floodgates for unlimited campaign contributions from corporations. Others championed the decision as a victory for free speech.
Democratic congressman from central Florida, Alan Grayson, said that following this decision, “only huge corporations have any constitutional rights... They have the right to bribe, the right to buy elections, the right to reward their elected toadies, and the right to punish the elected representatives who take a stab at doing what's right.”
Richard Hasen, writing for Slate, put it this way:
Today the court struck down decades-old limits on corporate and union spending in elections (including judicial elections) and opened up our political system to a money free-for-all.
...the Court overturned long-standing precedent, ruling that banning corporations from using money from their general treasuries for express advocacy was an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment political free speech rights. The majority opinion also struck down the electioneering communications rule as it applies to corporations. As a result, corporations and unions may now spend as much as they want on independent expenditures, in a way that could help the candidate of their choice, right up until Election Day.
As the presidential election of 2012 looms, all of us will be able to watch with our own eyes the impact of this decision. Even now the signs are ominous. Let’s take a closer look at one candidate, Mitt Romney, examining his source of campaign funding and a few of his top name contributors.