Citizens United, Five Years Later

by Rachel Rye Butler

January 21, 2015

Reflecting on corporate money in politics five years after the pivotal Citizens United case.

In Hebei province, smoke billows from chimneys from the steel plants. Air pollution has become one of the most severe environmental problems in mainland China.

© Lu Guang / Greenpeace

Last night during his State of the Union address, President Obama made a point to call out the flood of corporate money and influence in our democracy. And with good reason. January 21st, 2015 marks the five year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which rocked US democracy by opening the door for unlimited political spending by wealthy individuals and corporations.

When corporations own our democracy, the interests of the people get trampled by a stampede of campaign cash from corporations and the 1% meaning that the government serves their interests instead of ours.

Across the spectrum, common sense policies and proposals like taking action on climate change are being blocked by politicians beholden to their wealthy and corporate donors (for example, fossil fuel companies and the Koch Brothers) rather than to the interests of the people they’re supposed to represent.

This isn’t news to many. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

People and organizations that care about and work on the environment, civil rights, labor unions, women’s rights, and many other issues have come together because all of our rights from clean air and water to the right to vote are being undermined by the corporate control of our government.

And so we’re working together to take back our democracy and get on with the work of fighting climate change, ensuring voting rights, organizing for better wages and working conditions, standing up for women’s health, and all of the other “regular” (read: heroic) work that the people that make up these organizations do.

One way that we’re fighting together to take back our democracy is to overturn Citizens United already, over 500 towns and major cities, as well as 16 states, have passed resolutions to overturn the decision.

In the days leading up to itsfifth anniversary, more than five million peoplehave joined the call to overturn Citizens United. And you can still join them. Add your name now to say you support overturning Citizens United and getting money out of politics.

I like to think of this as the people’s veto. Because let’s face it the Citizens United decision was a bad call for a democracy that’s supposed to be “of, by, and for the people.” And the people are saying that it’s got to go.

Rachel Rye Butler

By Rachel Rye Butler

Rachel Rye Butler leads the Democracy Campaign at Greenpeace USA. She writes frequently about people power, voting rights, and money in politics.

We Need Your Voice Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.