Overturning Citizens United won’t be enough to restore citizens’ political voice

Cleveland.com | Published: Jan. 10, 2024

The Jan. 21, 2010, “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision has reduced democracy in our country. Federal election spending was $14.4 billion in 2020, up from nearly $5.3 billion in 2008, according to Open Secrets. The flood of spending by the super-rich and corporate entities has drowned the political voices of most people.

It’s a mistake, however, to believe that the following originated with Citizens United:

* The constitutional doctrine that “political money equals speech.” That began with a 1976 Supreme Court ruling.

* The corporate “right” to spend money in elections. That started with a 1978 Supreme Court case.

* ”Corporate personhood.” That began in the 1880s and now includes high-court-declared First, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment corporate constitutional rights.

Citizens United is simply the latest anti-democratic decision impeding our collective ability to protect our lives, communities and natural world. Overturning Citizens United isn’t enough. The We the People Amendment (House Joint Resolution 54) would abolish the “money equals speech” and “a corporation is a person” constitutional doctrines.

U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown was asked last August by other constituents and myself to co-sponsor HJR 54, as Marcia Fudge, her predecessor, did twice. Unfortunately, we have yet to hear from her.

Greg Coleridge
Cleveland Heights

Greg Coleridge is co-director of Move to Amend, the nonpartisan group supporting the We the People Amendment.