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Abolishing Corporate Personhood: Rights are for Real People

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Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Americans cannot prevent corporations from spending unlimited money to control elections, politicians, and policy. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court ignored the fact that corporations are creations of state law with government-derived advantages and labeled them, in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, "voices," "speakers," and yes, a "disadvantaged person or class." In this Wonderland, corporations are people, corporate money is "speech," and laws restricting corporate political spending violate the First Amendment.

Nearly 80 percent of the public opposes the holding in Citizens United and supports a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision, according to multiple polls. If Americans so clearly oppose the fabrication of "corporate people" who can use the Constitution to strike down the real people's laws, how did the folly of Citizens United ever happen?

In fact, the case is the result of a well-funded and organized 30-year campaign to establish corporate constitutional rights as a means to trump democratic laws. Indeed, Citizens United is more like a victory parade for this campaign than a stumble or simple mistake of the Court.