You can read Justice Stevens' entire dissent here:
Opinion of STEVENS, J. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, No. 08–205, CITIZENS UNITED, APPELLANT v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
(Click "more..." [below] to read a bit of Justice Stevens' dissent...)
JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG,
JUSTICE BREYER, and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR join, concurring
in part and dissenting in part.
The real issue in this case concerns how, not if, the
appellant may finance its electioneering. Citizens United
is a wealthy nonprofit corporation that runs a political
action committee (PAC) with millions of dollars in assets.
Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002
(BCRA), it could have used those assets to televise and
promote Hillary: The Movie wherever and whenever it
wanted to. It also could have spent unrestricted sums to
broadcast Hillary at any time other than the 30 days
before the last primary election. Neither Citizens United’s
nor any other corporation’s speech has been “banned,”
ante, at 1. All that the parties dispute is whether Citizens
United had a right to use the funds in its general treasury
to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period. The notion
that the First Amendment dictates an affirmative answer
to that question is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided.
Even more misguided is the notion that the Court must
rewrite the law relating to campaign expenditures by forprofit
corporations and unions to decide this case.
The basic premise underlying the Court’s ruling is its
iteration, and constant reiteration, of the proposition that
the First Amendment bars regulatory distinctions based
on a speaker’s identity, including its “identity” as a corporation.
While that glittering generality has rhetorical
appeal, it is not a correct statement of the law. Nor does it
tell us when a corporation may engage in electioneering
that some of its shareholders oppose. It does not even
resolve the specific question whether Citizens United may
be required to finance some of its messages with the
money in its PAC. The conceit that corporations must be
treated identically to natural persons in the political
sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify
the Court’s disposition of this case.
In the context of election to public office, the distinction
between corporate and human speakers is significant.
Although they make enormous contributions to our society,
corporations are not actually members of it. They
cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed
and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may
conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of
eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure,
and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate
concerns about their role in the electoral process.
Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if
not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to
guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate
spending in local and national races.
The majority’s approach to corporate electioneering
marks a dramatic break from our past. Congress has
placed special limitations on campaign spending by corporations
ever since the passage of the Tillman Act in 1907,
ch. 420, 34 Stat. 864. We have unanimously concluded
that this “reflects a permissible assessment of the dangers
posed by those entities to the electoral process,” FEC v.
National Right to Work Comm., 459 U. S. 197, 209 (1982)
(NRWC), and have accepted the “legislative judgment that
the special characteristics of the corporate structure require
particularly careful regulation,” id., at 209–210. The
Court today rejects a century of history when it treats the
distinction between corporate and individual campaign
spending as an invidious novelty born of Austin v. Michigan
Chamber of Commerce, 494 U. S. 652 (1990). Relying
largely on individual dissenting opinions, the majority
blazes through our precedents, overruling or disavowing a
body of case law including FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life,
Inc., 551 U. S. 449 (2007) (WRTL), McConnell v. FEC, 540
U. S. 93 (2003), FEC v. Beaumont, 539 U. S. 146 (2003),
FEC v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Inc., 479 U. S. 238
(1986) (MCFL), NRWC, 459 U. S. 197, and California
Medical Assn. v. FEC, 453 U. S. 182 (1981).
In his landmark concurrence in Ashwander v. TVA, 297
U. S. 288, 346 (1936), Justice Brandeis stressed the importance
of adhering to rules the Court has “developed . . . for
its own governance” when deciding constitutional questions.
Because departures from those rules always enhance
the risk of error, I shall review the background of
this case in some detail before explaining why the Court’s
analysis rests on a faulty understanding of Austin and
McConnell and of our campaign finance jurisprudence
more generally .1 I regret the length of what follows, but
the importance and novelty of the Court’s opinion require
a full response. Although I concur in the Court’s decision
to sustain BCRA’s disclosure provisions and join Part IV
of its opinion, I emphatically dissent from its principal
Now, you should read the whole thing, if for no other reason than to reaffirm your conviction that someone out there still gives a shit about trivial things like the integrity of the Constitution, and the institutions it establishes, not to mention simple morality and ethics, of which the Supreme Court's conservative majority are acutely devoid.