Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Tom Kim

Reader 2

Mark Golub

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Rights Information

© 2013 Hannah S. Fullerton


In 2010, our definition of democracy in America was drastically changed by the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC. The Court ruled that under the First Amendment, corporations have the right to free speech. The decision removed the final ban on corporations, which prohibited corporate money used for direct advocacy. The consequences of this have been tremendous. The decision has allowed for the creation and rise of Super PACs and political active nonprofits. As a result, Super PACs and nonprofits now act as “shadow campaigns”. Outside groups have the ability to engage in voter suppression tactics without politically hurting the candidate. Unlike political candidates, there are no direct ramifications for an outside organization to get caught engaging in voter suppression. They are not held accountable by anyone. The ability to take political action that is independent from the government or campaigns allows for a new form of corruption. Corruption is no longer a coordinated act between corporate money and a candidate, but rather political actions that take place outside the public sphere. Political actions that take place in the private sphere are outside the realm of political accountability. The people stand powerless against private outside organizations.