This op-ed originally appeared in the May 30, 2012 edition of the Daily Journal.
Much of the backlash around the Supreme Court's much-maligned 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC focuses on the battle cry that "corporations are not people." Well, as with all things, corporate personhood is a complex area of the law that boils down to sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't. The substance of the Citizens United decision essentially comes down to two conclusions, both of which I believe are ill conceived.
First, the thin majority found that speaker-based identity restrictions are impermissible. Put another way, if the government cannot prevent individuals from spending money on independent expenditures, then neither can it prevent corporations from doing so. For a variety of reasons, which I have detailed in a recent law review article, I believe that in the campaign finance arena corporations should not, in fact, be treated as identical to individuals. While corporations are certainly made up of people, they are artificial entities created with numerous state-created benefits.