While constitutional scholars point out that this case actually strengthens First Amendment rights, the effect it will have on our political environment is undeniable.
Milton Friedman was wrong. Corporations are not people, and they don't deserve rights as such. Campaign finance needs to be reformed.But it’s one thing for U.S. firms to have their say. What about foreign companies that operate U.S. subsidiaries? Many of these, like American businesses, are owned by ordinary shareholders — but a host of others are owned, in whole or in part, by the foreign governments themselves.
One prominent examples is CITGO Petroleum Company — once the American-born Cities Services Company, but purchased in 1990 by the Venezuelan government-owned Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. The Citizens United ruling could conceivably allow Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has sharply criticized both of the past two U.S. presidents, to spend government funds to defeat an American political candidate, just by having CITGO buy TV ads bashing his target.
And it’s not just Chavez. The Saudi government owns Houston’s Saudi Refining Company and half of Motiva Enterprises. Lenovo, which bought IBM’s PC assets in 2004, is partially owned by the Chinese government’s Chinese Academy of Sciences. And Singapore’s APL Limited operates several U.S. port operations. A weakening of the limit on corporate giving could mean China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and any other country that owns companies that operate in the U.S. could also have significant sway in American electioneering.