The Post-Citizens United Era.
This month marks five years since the United States Supreme Court made their infamous ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. That ruling turned a century of legal precedent on its head with the declaration that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend money in elections. And, that ruling opened the floodgates to massive spending levels in our political process.
In the five years since the Citizens United decision was made, some alarming trends have emerged, and they show exactly why the ruling was disastrous for our democracy. According to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice, three of these dangerous trends were foreseen by the Justices, but virtually ignored nonetheless.
In the election cycles since the ruling, we've seen “a tidal wave of dark money,” despite the Supreme Court's claim that “prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable.” And, those shareholders – the ones that our Supreme Court said would hold corporations accountable – have had a difficult time standing up to corporate spending that they know nothing about.
In between elections, wealthy donors and corporations found new ways to collaborate with so-called outside groups, and work around regulations that limit direct campaign contributions. The Court claimed that those remaining regulations would prevent corruption, but donors simply went around them and continued trying to roll them back.
In the last five years, the rich and the powerful have found new ways to buy off our politicians and made it possible for lawmakers to ignore everyone except those at the top. In 2014 alone, the top 100 donors to Super PACs spent almost as much as 4.75 million small donors combined.
There is just no other way to say it – the Citizens United ruling gave the rich control of our democracy and it's up to us to take it back. We must get money out of politics – go to MoveToAmend.org to find out how.