The only way to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling that money is speech in political campaigns and thereby protected by the Constitution is to change the Constitution. Which is exactly what Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is setting out to do.
“There’s just no way around it,” he says. “There’s no way to get to transparency and disclosure as long as the decision stands. I don’t see a way around it, anyway.” Instead, Udall is the driving force to repeal Citizens United through a constitutional amendment. The amendment would give Congress the constitutional power to regulate the raising and spending of money in national elections, and it would give the states the same power to regulate spending in their elections. The amendment strikes at the fundamental heresy that lies at the heart of both Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo, the 40-year-old case that made CU inevitable, given the correct composition of a future Supreme Court: namely, that money is speech. To this, of course, was added the equally preposterous notion that corporations are people and that, therefore, they have the same free speech rights as you, me, and the guy on the next bar stool. (How preposterous? Google Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad some time and get a good look at how corporate personhood got birthed on the wrong side of the constitutional blanket.) Pass the amendment, and all of the entangled absurdity of Citizens United goes away. One doomsday machine takes out the other.
While I admire the sentiment and endorse the idea, it will never pass. Count on it. There’s too much corporate interest in keeping the ruling as it stands. Another argument is that for all the hue and cry over Citizens United and the predictions that the election would be handed over to the folks with all the dough to buy and sell it as they please, it didn’t exactly work out that way. Sheldon Adelson, Karl Rove, and the Koch Brothers got bupkus for their billions. So why change the foundation of our governing laws to solve a problem that turned out to be nothing much?
Because the idea of corporations having the same rights as a person is Newspeak.