Obama overstates impact of Supreme Court decision
By Louis Jacobson
Published on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 6:34 p.m.
On Jan. 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling striking down barriers to corporations spending money directly from their own treasuries to influence elections. The 5-4 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission drew immediate fire from President Barack Obama.
"This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy," the president said in his weekly radio address on Jan. 23. "It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way -– or to punish those who don’t. That means that any public servant who has the courage to stand up to the special interests and stand up for the American people can find himself or herself under assault come election time."
Obama then offered up a specific claim about the impact of the Supreme Court's decision. "Even foreign corporations may now get into the act. I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections."
We decided to investigate whether the justices' ruling did in fact open the door to foreign companies spending freely on American campaigns. We found Obama was exaggerating the impact of the ruling.
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact:
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag