Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 9, 2017

Should Corporations Have A Right To Finance Political Campaigns?

Yoav Hammer

Abstract

Although on election day each vote carries equal weight, in the U.S. there is a strong correlation between policy and the preferences of the affluent, and a weak correlation between policy and the preferences of the middle class or the poor. This state of affairs can result from unequal input into the democratic process. If a democracy allows unlimited private financing of political campaigns, then prior to elections wealthy citizens or businesses can gain greater influence than others on the political discourse. In addition, there is a danger that elected representatives − who wish to be re-elected − would decide in ways that serve the interests of their big donors. In this article, I discuss an important aspect of money’s influence on politics, namely whether corporations should be allowed to participate in the financing of campaigns. This issue produced intense disagreement over the last several years, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision which held that restrictions against corporate campaign finance are unconstitutional since a corporation’s right to freedom of political speech is no less than a citizen’s right to freedom of political speech. Since in my opinion the Court’s position is seriously mistaken, I find it important to look at the arguments the Court provides and try to refute them.

Published Online: 2017-5-9
Published in Print: 2017-5-8

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