After considering Ted Olsen’s comments in The Wall Street Journal about the impact of the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, it is clear that the free speech rights of small business and their entrepreneurs were as much intended targets of the decision as those of major corporations. Olsen, the lawyer for Citizens United, said:
The decisions that the Court today overruled rested on the faulty premise that political speech can be restricted in order to prevent corporate money from “distorting” political discourse. In fact, the vast majority of corporations are either nonprofit advocacy groups–like Citizens United–or small businesses. Far from “distorting” the political process, the speech of these corporations reflects the views of their members or the entrepreneurial individuals who formed the corporation. Permitting these individuals to have a voice in the political process adds an important perspective to the public debate and enables individuals of limited means to band together to counterbalance the political speech of the super-rich. McCain-Feingold silenced those speakers, and, as the Court concluded, was therefore impossible to reconcile with the First Amendment.
Apparently, Olsen envisions significant and substantially increased levels of activism in policy making and politics by thousands upon thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Those are the legions of “S” Corps, LLC’s, LLP’s and their owners. For the most part, they have not been players in politics: they have not set up PACS; they do not have lobbyists; and, have not spent money on political ads.
But, they will have a lots of political money, heretofore untapped gushers of political cash in the millions of dollars, to spread around on the political playing field and deploy for all types of public affairs advocacy; to influence policy; and, to take sides and spend those millions on ads for political candidates they like or dislike influencing the outcomes of elections.
In that respect, whatever the original intent of the litigation was, the Citizens United decision has fostered a new, unchartered and possibly unlimited frontier for the deployment of political money and advertising dollars spent lavishly not only by major corporations, long term players in politics; but also, by small businesses and their owners, the new entrants.
That conceivably will revolutionize, and perhaps even radicalize, politics, policy making and election outcomes well beyond the bounds as we now them!