Citizens United

The Supreme Court, as expected, has today overruled some of its key precedents on campaign finance reform. As I indicated in an earlier post, I like that result, but that hardly qualifies as analysis.  I’ll leave that to Rick Hasen and others who know way more about this than I do.

I do want to make one observation about the decision.  In Footnote 16 of his dissent, Justice Stevens points out that the narrow grounds for decision rejected by the Court in Citizens United are as plausible, if not more plausible, than the creative statutory reading that the Court adopted to avoid addressing the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act in June.  I think that is clearly correct.

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6 Responses

  1. Sean Hogle says:

    If you “like the result” of this decision, do you support the idea the corporations should have the right to vote? Just curious …

  2. Jake says:

    Were he alive, Hugo Black would be pleased. The First Amendment says what it means, and means what it says.

  3. A.J. Sutter says:

    “In a democratic society, the longstanding consensus on the need to limit corporate campaign spending should outweigh the wooden application of judge-made rules. The majority’s rejection of this principle ‘elevate[s] corporations to a level of deference which has not been seen at least since the days when substantive due process was regularly used to invalidate regulatory legislation thought to unfairly impinge upon established economic interests.’” — Abi gezint, Stevens, J. Stay healthy.

    Coming a day after the formerly “Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts” electorate has endorsed one of the most perverse forms of American exceptionalism by rejecting universal health care, the depressing impact of this profoundly depressing decision is even more profound. I’d previously criticized Robert Reich’s Supercapitalism for ending with a bizarre rant about the dangers of expanding corporate personhood. Sadly, this decision is a rant-come-true. It is hard to recognize America as my country anymore — and will even get harder in the years until this decision is reversed.

    What surprises me most is that Gerard’s short, cryptic note is so far the ONLY post on this blog about the decision. Are people so wrapped up in their own sub-sub-disciplines that they can’t comment on one of the most significant political cases of our generation? (Not to diss the Bush v. Gore usurpation, of course.)

  4. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Maybe I’ll do a more detailed post on Monday. I’ll have to mull that over.

  5. Ken Rhodes says:

    Of particular interest to me, especially in light of Justice Stevens’ dissenting opinion criticizing the overreach of the majority, I find this statement, which is crucial to the majority overreach of the case before it, to be astonishing. This is in paragraph 1.b: >>Because Citizen United’s narrower arguments are not sustainable, this Court must, in an exercise of its judicial responsibility, consider §441b’s facial validity.>>

    “Not sustainable???” That, of course, is completely bogus. The court could have found in favor of Citizen United. They could even have elaborated on that finding, stating that the BCRA cannot be applied to not-for-profit corporations funded by citizen contributions for the express purpose of political advocacy, because such suppression limits the right of the subject individuals to freedom of speech in violation of their first amendment rights. It is, after all, only under such a scenario of banding together to pool funds that the “little folks” can afford TV advertising.

    Such a finding would have had no bearing on the HUGE issue of for-profit corporations funding partisan political advertising.

    Instead, the majority made an absurd assertion to support their vast overreach of judicial restraint.

  6. DonS says:

    Hey guys, first time commenter here; graduate GW Law; master in psychology, blah blah blah.

    I too am interested in seeing whether legal eagles here can penetrate a bit more extensively, and even a bit deeper than their scholarly preoccupation with the finer points of the law to note the incredibly society-damaging scope of this decision. It\’s good to remember that without a modicum of genuine freedom, all those nice ideas ensconced in the constitution and bill of rights are just so much theoretical hogwash. But I guess it provides grist for the con law mill for decades to come. We call that win-win; win-lose?