Statement of Doug Kendall on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC

Statement of Doug Kendall, President and Founder, Constitutional Accountability Center on the Supreme Court’s decision in
Citizens United vs. FEC

January 21, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC — The Supreme Court today re-wrote the Constitution to give corporations—never mentioned in the Constitution—the same right to influence the electoral process as “We the People.” 

The federal political process is the centerpiece of our constitutional democracy.  Corporations cannot vote in elections, stand for election, or serve as elected officials, but the Court today ruled they can overwhelm the political process using profits generated by the special privileges granted to corporations alone. Two centuries ago, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Marshall recognized that corporations are artificial creatures of the State, subject to government oversight to ensure they do not abuse the special privileges granted to them.  But today, in the name of the First Amendment, the Court gives corporations the right to drown out the voices of individual Americans.

The Court’s ruling could transform our electoral politics.  During 2008 alone, Exxon Mobil Corporation generated profits of $45 billion.  With a diversion of even two percent of those profits to the political process, this one company could have outspent both presidential candidates and fundamentally changed the dynamic of the 2008 election.

The Court’s decision today is startlingly activist and a sharp departure from constitutional text and history; our democracy will suffer for it.  We can only hope that the ruling is as short-lived as it is wrongly decided.


Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. CAC filed a brief in Citizen’s United on behalf of itself and the League of Women Voters.   CAC has also released a discussion draft of a forthcoming report, tentatively titled “A Capitalist Joker”: Corporations, Corporate Personhood, and the Constitution, which fleshes out the main point of our brief: the argument that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as individuals, particularly when it comes to influencing electoral politics in this country.