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Robert Longley

So, Can Corporations Vote Now?

By January 22, 2010

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In its landmark 5-4 decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out years of campaign finance law by ruling that corporations and labor unions have the same First Amendment freedom of speech rights as individuals in using their funds to support or oppose candidates for election. In his dissenting opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens raised an interesting, if somewhat sarcastic question: does this mean corporations can vote now?

"Under the majority's view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech," wrote Justice Stevens.

"It is a tantalizing notion," wrote Lyle Denniston in his analysis, "The personhood of corporations" on ScotusBlog.

"Suppose that General Motors Corp., troubled that a candidate for Congress from Michigan was too favorable to the United Auto Workers, decided to do everything in its corporate power to defeat that candidate. So, aside from spending huge sums of its own money (none of it federal bailout money) to influence the outcome, it went to the office of the voting registrar in downtown Detroit. It sought to sign up, affirming that it was a citizen and resident of Michigan. Denied registration, it sued, claiming that, under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it was a "person," and, as a "citizen," it was entitled to equal protection under the election laws. Would the Supreme Court buy that?

It should be noted that the Supreme Court, in its ruling, did uphold provisions of current campaign finance laws requiring any corporation that spends more than $10,000 in a year to produce or air the kind of election ad covered by federal restrictions to disclose the names and addresses of anyone who contributed $1,000 or more to the ad's preparation or distribution.

Also See:
Campaign Contribution Laws for Individuals

Follow US Government Info On Twitter


January 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm
(1) Carrie Anderson says:

For shame, Chief Justice John Roberts.

I read your interview in the Atlantic Monthly and am not surprised that this extreme decision came up 5-4, even though in that interview you claimed that you wanted to bring the body of SCOTUS together.

Shame on you for that alone.

And hurray for the 4 justices who are not trying to rewrite the Constitution. Since when do civil liberties apply to corporations?

Carrie Anderson
St. Paul, MN

January 24, 2010 at 3:31 am
(2) CB says:

Land of naivety

Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Thank you all (the kickback five)
for obviously excepting
kickbacks for your vote
(what other posible reason would
you turn this into a freedom of speach
issue when it’s clearly a conflict of
interest issue) So enjoy your cigars
and steak dinners and whatever your
seasoned self ratioalization goes through†to convince yourselves†
that money (i’ll gotten or not)
will now be our master no matter who
the dictator or Country is that provide’s the most money.

So congratulations on your self
indulgent and in good time self destructive (short term pleasure
often leads to long term grief)†
blunder that will forever attach your
good (LoL) name to it.
So I hope you enjoy the kickbacks
and short term benefits that you
voted for (with your obvious transparent decision) so you can†
can enjoy them with your family before†they discover you sold them†
to the highest bidder†with your greed.

P.S. This is a little song lyric
†Earl Warrens†Very own Godson†
wrote for people†like you.†

“Land of Naivety”

Hypochristen politician
looks like a mannequin
kickbacks are his cause
he breaks all his own laws
then goes to church to redeem
all of his sin’s

he must be from
they must be from
we must be from
the land of naivety

check out the bozo
talk ho radio†
corporate advertising
is his name
partisan pollution
is a futile institution
he should be raced
to a home for the insane

he must be from
they must be from
we must be from
the land of naivety

sociopastor slave master
makes no apology
it was never funny
exploit’s their soul’s†
for money
then hand’s them guilt
with a cheap pimp physcology

they laugh their way to†
the bank
they should cry their way
to their soul
when will we ever
turn the page
they pray on good people
in a church with no steeple†
I hope they all†
feel our rage

I must be from†
they must be from†
we must be from
the land of naivety
†† † † † ††

January 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm
(3) Bill says:

We have reached the moment when serious consideration must be given to the impeachment of at least 5 members of the court. Since 2000 the decisions of those persons have been consistently against the citizens of this country. How much more damage are we to allow these extremists to inflict upon us? The rightwing opposes activist judges-except those that are rightwing activists. The Kickback 5 have got to go.

January 26, 2010 at 11:39 am
(4) John Roane says:

Its time for the US Congress and the citizens of this country put this issue to bed.

Simple campaign funding reform, any (living person) citizen of the USA is allowed to give as much money as they want. Only requirement if over $2500 per candidate or $5000 total for all candidates per year must be reported on Fed tax return with stiff penalties if not.

No Corporations, Unions, PAC, etc. shall give any money at all, with stiff penalties if they do and any such candidate knowingly taking such money shall be subject to the same penalties.

All contribution will be posted on the net each year for the public to read. Let the cards fall where they may. Itís open and honest and provides free speech for all. End of story.


John Roane

January 29, 2010 at 9:48 am
(5) Frank C. Galford says:

Are you guys nuts? Foreigners will now be able to control our elections. I sinerely hope our Congress gets off its dumb ass and fixes this stupidity or better yet that you all come to your senses. I just can’t believe that our Supreme Court would sell out its citizens.

June 29, 2010 at 12:20 am
(6) Yolanda Clark says:

I’m baffled by the ruling of this Supreme Court regarding “personhood” of corporations.
To put it bluntly: corporations don’t perform human bodily functions. They don’t eat, sleep, drink, reproduce, breathe, feel human emotions, or release bodily waste.
Since they do none of these human functions; how then can they be considered a human person?
Anyone with common sense can figure out the difference. Therefore; their ruling makes one question their lack of objectivity & or “too close ties to corporations”.
These judges should have recused themselves from this decision. Their ruling makes absolutely no sense to educated Americans & has infuriated the American people. Now the rich corporations will control our elections & hasten the divide between the economically privileged & the struggling part of our population.

July 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm
(7) robert says:

carrie anderson, many court decisions have a gray area and are open to ambiguity, but when it comes to the constitution, it is what it is. Even if the judge, or anyone for that matter, feels it is a stupid decision, they must separate their opinion and make an unbiased decision.

Corporations are considered citizens and retain the same rights as a human being, thus, they have the right to vote.

August 24, 2011 at 9:26 am
(8) Cass says:

If the US constitution ‘is what it is’ – and so is unchangeable, this is not what the Founding Fathers intended. Regrettably no commentators here have identified the fact that the corporation has no ethical dimension – ie. ‘no soul to save, no body to incarcerate’. The dispensing of the need for morality in the affairs of the US rathaer explains why it is in such a mess – and why GFCs’ will keep recurring until someone can acually say ‘This is wrong” – that lobbyists, through the power of corporate millions, can run Washington, making the country ungovernable. Suggest everyone reads the 14 page summary of the Financial Crisis Inquiry
http://cybercemetery.unt.edu/archive/fcic/20110310172443/http://fcic.gov … and THINK.

October 3, 2010 at 11:59 am
(9) Bob Hudson says:

Robert, which corporate member gets to cast the vote? The president, the chairman of the board ?????

April 22, 2011 at 12:47 am
(10) Graedogg says:

How on God’s scorched Earth could anyone (person or corporation, or other) let something so absurd as 1st Amendment rights for corporations make it into ANY court, much less the Supreme Court? And people want to act like unions have the same power corporations do… Get outta town! My town at least – Houston. So corporations, unlike real-life humans, can’t eat, sleep, or s#!t. Then why are we all getting s#!t on by the big corporations??? And now they want a tax break, too!?!? Wait, what am I talking about, big corporations always want a tax break.

April 9, 2012 at 12:39 am
(11) Pds3.14 says:

Now the Ironic thing is, People keep talking like sleeping and eating and going to the bathroom and feeling emotions define personhood.
their are people, who don’t do one or more of those things, many people don’t show evidence of emotions,

And plus, who says human emotions are required.
ever heard of the China brain concept, it basically goes like this:
if everyone in china performs the function of a cluster of neurons, China behaves as a sapient being in it’s own right.
it may not have HUMAN emotions, but almost all groups of people have a mind seperate from their individual members.

Nobody runs Twitter like they drive a car or use their computer, they just send information through the multimillion person network, if twitter sees a threat to it’s existence, it pleas for mercy, attacks the threat, makes a counterthreat to the threat. it works on almost the exact same principles that the human brain works on. what about the internet itself. When it sees something like SOPA, it conjures up mass resistance. When somebody tries to kill it or injure or cripple it, it stops them by attacking them using protesters, controlled through information dispensing websites. The will of a country is similar, the USA exhibits self-preservation by defending itself against threats, it consumes people and converts them to a useful form, namely helpful citizens, it reacts to things that would kill it as if it were sapient. communism wouldn’t necessarily protect people, but people (many thousands) died to protect THE COUNTRY, not its members, we are like its cells, the government is a central part of its brain. Anti-government people are treated as cancerous cells. the government of the united states of america is most certainly an intelligent being. which may eventually reproduce like it’s parent Britain did many times.

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