Citizens United v. FEC: A year after the hearing

One year ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court held a special session to re-hear arguments in the now infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case that that led to the disastrous decision allowing corporations to spend as much money as they want influencing our elections.

And now our worst predictions about the Supreme Court ruling are coming true.

Target and Best Buy already have contributed more than $100,000 apiece to the campaign of a corporate candidate for governor of Minnesota.

However, the lack of disclosure laws enable most corporate contributions to remain in the dark and avoid the sort of backlash Target (and to a lesser extent Best Buy) (we know about these contributions only because of Minnesota’s disclosure laws, which are currently being contested in court by defenders of secret electioneering).

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to spend more than $75 million this election season. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads plans to spend $50 million. Americans for Prosperity, an arm of the billionaire Koch brothers’ empire of corporate Astroturf, plans to spend more than $45 million. All told, hundreds of millions in corporate cash are expected to flood the election.

No doubt about it, we democracy-loving people are in the midst of the fight of our lives. Thankfully, there are solutions to the problem of corporate domination in our democracy.

The DISCLOSE Act would force corporations to disclose the names of those who make political contributions that go directly to candidates or front groups used for funneling money to political campaigns.

The Fair Elections Now Act would give congressional candidates a public financing alternative to elections bankrolled by corporations and address the corrosive influence of corporate spending in elections for local, judicial, and state candidates. A similar measure also has been proposed for presidential candidates.

The Shareholder Protection Act would empower stockholders to stop activist CEOs from spending corporate money on electioneering.

And support is growing throughout the country for a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United v. FEC, the decision that said corporate political spending is “free speech.”

None of these fixes are easy. None of them will make the immense wealth and power that corporations wield to attack any perceived threat to maximum profits disappear overnight.

But with enough people working together toward a solution to this crisis of corporate influence, we can finally achieve a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. It will be extremely difficult, but it sure will be worth it.