It was as recent as 1976 that the Supreme Court first introduced the idea that money counts as speech – a slippery slope that has since then reduced to a vanishing point the effort to control political contributions.
In 2010, the John Roberts court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have rights under the Constitution to freedom of speech to contribute unlimited amounts of money for political purposes, even to the point of not needing to identify the givers – another new slippery slope.
In a case now before the court, five justices, perhaps all men, will decide whether a corporation, in this case Hobby Lobby, has the right to refuse on religious grounds some types of contraception for their female employees – all who are real people who may have a good basis for wanting those specific, legal drugs. It’s a new branch of the slope. What’s next?
In 1788, the new Constitution opened with the famous words “We the people.” By 2010, it should be “We the people, but also the wealthy and corporate interests.”
The men with their billion-dollar bankrolls, as well as business money, now dominate our politics. Our democracy already is sorely threatened by this shift to monied interests in our elections. The only way to reverse this may be to re-examine and limit these two odd concepts: that money is speech, and that corporations are people. That will depend on the justices the next president will appoint.