Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka On the Second Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Citizens United

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 19, 2012. Two years ago, the Supreme Court seriously undermined our democracy when it ruled by the narrowest of margins to strike down restrictions on independent campaign spending by business corporations and their supporters.

The Citizens United ruling further tilted the playing field in favor of the 1% and against the 99% whose voices are being drowned out by excessive corporate spending and influence.

Since the Citizens United ruling came down, and particularly since the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we’ve seen growing momentum in support of public policy solutions aimed at curbing excessive corporate influence and restoring greater balance in our political process.  From initiatives to bring about greater transparency and disclosure of spending by corporate interests and their wealthy donors, to calls for a constitutional amendment abolishing corporate “personhood,” people from coast to coast have sounded the alarm about the need for reforms to rein in excessive corporate influence in our democracy.

The labor movement wholeheartedly supports restoring corporations to their proper role as commercial institutions.  Business corporations are not people – they are man-made creatures of law that exist to generate economic activity and create jobs and income in communities.  The notion that they should enjoy the same or greater rights and protections than natural persons is absurd, and it is destructive to our democracy.

To restore the corporation to its rightful place, we need to reform the system.  In doing so, the greatest care must be taken to ensure that the Bill of Rights’ protections for real people, including protections for democratic organizations and movements, are not inadvertently weakened.  The AFL-CIO will work to support efforts to rein in corporate power that simultaneously protect our nation’s Bill of Rights, and to ensure those efforts are focused on the most effective means to address corporate dominance of our political system. 


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