Florida A & M University Law Review


Justin Levitt


In 2010, the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, declared unconstitutional any law forbidding corporations and unions from using general treasury funds for "electioneering communication," or political advocacy transmitted by broadcast, cable, or satellite communication in the period leading up to a federal election.

This note will examine the implications of the Citizens United decision and will argue that the future of First Amendment protection of corporate speech does not turn on any notion of corporate personhood. It will explore exactly how the Court has applied the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to corporations. It will re-examine the infamous Santa Clara headnote and the genesis of the legal community's flawed perception of corporate personhood. Part II will break down the Citizens Court's approach and will show how the majority could have reached the same result without overturning perfectly good law. Part II will also illustrate the majority's pro-business bias and its role in their analysis. Part III will discuss the implications of the decision on campaign finance laws as they relate to corporations owned by foreign nationals. It will explore how the various campaign finance laws, starting with Tillman Act of 1907 through the McCainFeingold amendments of 2002, have treated multinational corporations and how Citizens may change everything. As an academic exercise, Part IV will briefly extend the Citizen Court's logic to second amendment protection of a corporation's right to bear arms. The note will conclude with a warning, echoing Justice Stevens' concerns regarding the lack of judicial restraint and the future of the Court.