Our political system changed for the worse and became less democratic when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 to lift the ban on political spending by corporations and labor unions. The vote was 5-4. Justice John Roberts joined the conservative bloc to provide the deciding vote. The decision is explained and posted here on the Federal Elections Commission’s website.*

Lloyd Lofthouse, our frequent commentator and friend, wrote the following commentary about the ongoing and disastrous influence of big money in elections:

Private companies becoming citizens and doing this stuff is nothing new.

“But for 100 years, corporations were not given any constitutional right of political speech; in fact, quite the contrary. In 1907, following a corporate corruption scandal involving prior presidential campaigns, Congress passed a law banning corporate involvement in federal election campaigns. That wall held firm for 70 years.” …

“Then came Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 First Amendment decision in 2010 that extended to corporations for the first time full rights to spend money as they wish in candidate elections — federal, state and local. The decision reversed a century of legal understanding, unleashed a flood of campaign cash and created a crescendo of controversy that continues to build today.”


“Citizens United is a conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization in the United States founded in 1988. In 2010, the organization won a U.S. Supreme Court case known as Citizens United v. FEC, which struck down as unconstitutional a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from making expenditures in connection with federal elections. The organization’s current president and chairman is David Bossie.[1]”

“Dark Money: Citizens United unleashed unlimited spending in our elections, and groups can now spend hundreds of millions without disclosing their sources of funding. We advocate for greater transparency in election spending.”


*The FEC commentary begins with this paragraph about the Citizens United decision:

On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission overruling an earlier decision, Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce (Austin), that allowed prohibitions on independent expenditures by corporations. The Court also overruled the part of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission that held that corporations could be banned from making electioneering communications. The Court upheld the reporting and disclaimer requirements for independent expenditures and electioneering communications. The Court’s ruling did not affect the ban on corporate contributions.

I do not understand the last sentence of the paragraph, which contradicts everything that precedes it as well as the practical effect of the CU decision. If there are any lawyers out there who can explain this apparent contradiction, I welcome your comments.