Mass Democracy in a Postfactual Market Society: Citizens United and the Role of Corporate Political Speech

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Book Chapter


This paper addresses Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010). Part I discusses political speech within a context defined by three factors: (1) electorates that are so large that speech must address them largely by using “mass media;” (2) a postfactual culture where analysis and debate often rely on deliberate distortions, misstatements, or fabrications of factual matters; and (3) a market society where political speech depends largely upon having the financial ability to use mass media.

After discussing the legal fiction of corporate personhood, Part II argues first, that Citizens United has a reasoned basis and second, that critics allow their concern about the role of wealth in politics to divert them from addressing both the basis of the decision and other avenues of reform.

Part III discusses measures to limit the role of money in politics and the problem that, in a market society, speech will always be, to some extent, for sale.