The US supreme court’s decision on Citizens United raises a vital issue: should corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals? Brian Pellot discusses the case.
Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (2010) was a US supreme court decision that in effect declared that first amendment free speech rights apply not only to individuals, but also to corporations and unions. The case arose when the right-wing non-profit corporation Citizens United was blocked from airing a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton before the 2008 Democratic primaries. The ruling overturned a provision set down in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 curtailing corporation-funded ads that directly name federal candidates. Critics of the decision, including President Barack Obama, argued that unlimited political spending by rich corporations with political agendas would create huge inequalities in speech that could undermine democracy.