The First Amendment is the most highly prized right of Americans. Free speech is the foundation of our republic and modern Western society.
People claim the right of free speech as inalienable. That right doesn’t belong to nonhuman entities such as robots or corporations.
In January, the Supreme Court overturned a 100-year-old ruling limiting campaign contributions. They voted 5-to-4 in overturning previous campaign regulations. The ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, and some older campaign regulations. The Tillman Act of 1907 forbade corporations and banks from directly giving money to federal campaigns. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 also barred labor unions and corporations from contributing to federal elections. Although labor unions and corporations are able to contribute indirectly through political action committees. The government, at that time and for the past 100 years, felt allowing corporations into politics would diminish the efficiency and virtue of democracy.
Those who voted in favor of overturning corporate spending limits claimed campaign donations equate to free speech, and said the government has no right to regulate free speech. The dissenters felt democracy would be corrupted by the huge influx of corporate money in the political sphere. Even President Obama disagreed with the court. Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting, did not believe that corporate speech should be treated as equal to that of individuals.
The recent ruling gives corporations the same status as people, except there is no contribution limit for corporations. Previously the courts decided that limiting contributions protected the integrity of elections. Any corporation, which has millions to billions of dollars at its dispense, can put as much money as it wants toward any candidate. Ordinary citizens, the framework and pillars of democracy, are limited to $2,400 per election per candidate, according to the election commission’s website.
The Supreme Court has basically given corporations the green flag to openly buy seats in Congress and presidential bids. Money makes the world go round, and politicians are always more loyal to the people who wrote them campaign checks. Politicians are more loyal to contributors than constituents so more kickbacks will go to corporations and individuals, and states will suffer because of a reckless decision by an activist court.
The court felt that by prohibiting corporations from directly contributing to campaigns conflicted with free speech. But what the decision really did was diminish the value of individual people compared to multimillion dollar companies. With a contribution cap, they limit our free speech and show that money talks.
Corporations are not people and should not be given greater rights than individual people for the sake of democracy.
– Ashton Archer is a junior in mechanical engineering. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.