232045 Citizens United decision and public health:The Supreme Court ruling, its implications, and proposals for action

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 12:50 PM - 1:10 PM

William H. Wiist, DHSc, MPH , Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
Harmful corporate products and operations have long been a focus of public health research and advocacy. A January 21, 2010 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court had a significant effect on corporations' ability to influence policy decision-makers. In the Citizens United case the Court ruled that a federal law prohibiting corporate independent expenditures in election campaigns was a ban on free speech, thus allowing corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money to election campaigns directly from their corporate treasury. Corporations will now have greater influence on election campaigns in which candidates take positions on public health issues such as tobacco control, school health education topics, the right-to-choose, automobile safety, worker safety and health, etc. Several members of the US Congress and advocacy groups are proposing legislation and constitutional amendments to address control corporate political speech. The history of corporate personhood, the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and implications for public health, and Congressional proposals to limit corporate political speech will be reviewed. Public health needs to refocus its efforts on the rights of the corporation as a fundamental, societal distal factor in health, and work with other organizations to bring the corporation back under the control of human democracy.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Summarize the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United case, 2. Identify at least one implication of the Supreme Court's ruling for public health 3. Identify at least three proposals in the US Congress to address the Supreme Court's ruling.

Keywords: Health Law, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have studied the topic and related issues, and lectured and written about it.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Oxford University Press publishing author of book on related topics

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.