do we need to overturn citizens united? or is there a more direct method to fix the issue?

A thought provoking article The Problem With Citizens United Is Not Corporate Personhood by Rob Hager and James Marc Leas of Truthout posits that Citizens United is not being correctly interpreted and that there is actually a much easier solution to the issue of corporate money in politics.

In part:

“Fortunately, the inordinate influence of private money in elections can be fixed, and the fix is far easier to accomplish – and more certain of success if accomplished – than any kind of constitutional amendment, as described in “Constitutional Amendment Not Needed: Congress Already Has a Remedy.

As to corporate rights, what is true is that the legal fiction of corporate personhood was created to apply the 14th Amendment for protecting corporations from certain state regulations and taxes during the first Gilded Age (1870-1900). The 14th Amendment prevents any state from depriving “any person” of property without due process of law or denying “any person” equal protection of the laws.”

In particular, they argue that

“In both [court] cases, the court defined freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment from the perspective of the listener, rather than of the speaker. The court held that the listener had the right to listen to all sources, whether the sources be corporations, partnerships, other business entities, individuals, associations or nonprofits.”

Given this interpretation of Citizens United (which is supported in part by subsequent statements made by SCOTUS), a remedy is suggested that would address the actual issue of corporate money in politics:

“Without the corporate personhood and constitutional amendment diversions, Sen. Sanders, Rep. Deutch and an aroused public can demand that Congress use its existing constitutional powers under Article III, Section 2 to restore the traditional limits on court jurisdiction over the political question of private money in elections. Then Congress will be free to pass legislation abolishing corrupting private finance of elections. While substantial public pressure is still needed for Congress to pass this legislation with ordinary majority votes, the barrier to success is far lower than the third-thirds vote in each house and ratification by three-fourths of the states required for a constitutional amendment.”

Go read the whole thing, it’s really very interesting, particularly if you have any legal bent at all. I still think soemthing explicitly barring corporations from personhood would be a prudent thing, but I see every reason to pursue the angle suggested above as well.

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