Citizens United, citizens divided

Democracy and economy in a corporate key

by CAROL J. GREENHOUSE

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The US Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United largely deregulated corporations’ contributions to political campaigns. Immediately and persistently controversial, the case is significant for its reasoning with respect to interests, influence, identity, and equality as registers of the public interest—conceptually fusing democracy and economy through corporations. Citizens operates on many scales, though, and its domains are not limited to election law—notably including two abortion law cases among its cited precedents. Following that arrow leads to landmark abortion opinions—particularly to their dissents, key elements of which are echoed in the Citizens opinion. The discursive connections across these bodies of law suggest Citizens’ implications for personal liberty as contingent on an individual's corporate identity.