Breaking News

Citizens United v. FEC Round-up

Reactions to today’s decision dominated the news cycle.  The BBC reviews the decision, noting that it “ends a 20-year ban on businesses using money from their own funds to pay for campaign ads.”  The Wall Street Journal reports that the decision allows unions and corporations to directly advertise in political campaigns, negating a section of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA).  SCOTUSblog’s own Lyle Denniston points out questions left unanswered by today’s opinion: can foreign corporations with U.S. operations advertise for political candidates?  Are the restrictions lifted on corporations also lifted from unions?  What, if any, is the distinction between “issue advocacy and “express advocacy”?  At Newsweek’s The Gaggle, Krista Gesaman distinguishes between donations to campaigns and investing in advertising, noting that “as long as corporations don’t interact with a specific political campaign, they can directly buy ad time to support a candidate.”  The Volokh Conspiracy also covers the decision, as does NPR.  For further coverage, and relevant documents in the case, check out the SCOTUSwiki page for the case.

Elsewhere, commentators discuss how the decision will affect upcoming elections.  At the New York Times’ blog, Jeff Zeleny posits that Republicans will benefit financially from the decision.  Republicans regard the decision as an important “victory for the First Amendment,” while Democrats see the decision as “bad for democracy,” says Zeleny.  CNN’s Bill Mears reports that the case could affect state laws in the twenty-two states that have laws similar to the federal restrictions overruled today.  And Daniel Fisher of Forbes remarks that the holding “can be summed up in a few words: ‘Money talks. And that’s OK.’”  At the Financial Times, Stephanie Kirchgaessner notes that campaign experts anticipate an increase in the number of attack ads as a result of the decision.  The WSJ Law Blog and ACSblog also anticipate changes to the upcoming election cycle.

Some respondents describe the decision as a First Amendment victory.  The Pacific Legal Foundation concludes that the decision will “reinvigorate” speech protection throughout the country.  Erica Goldberg, writing for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, suggests that the decision will expand free speech rights at universities, where speech codes can prohibit discussion of sensitive or controversial topics.  The decision, she remarks, contests the view that “certain speakers and certain messages” should be silenced so others “feel more comfortable speaking.”  And Roger Pilon, at Cato’s blog, writes that the decision is a victory for the First Amendment, and that “we are the stronger for today’s decision.”

Other commentators expressed concern over the decision.  Jon Talton writes for the Seattle Times that the decision could “unleash up to $1 trillion in corporate money.”  The Justice at Stake campaign compares the decision to “pouring gasoline” on special interest spending in judicial elections.  Daniel Farber, of the Center for Progressive Reform, concludes that the decision “opens the door” for foreign influence over elections.  Richard Hasen , writing at Slate, critiques the finding in the case, which he suggests is “in violation of its usual rule of stare decisis.”  (Hasen does note that he is honored to have his book footnoted in Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion.)   The ACSblog and Huffington Post also comment.

And finally, Dahlia Lithwick, writing for Slate, reports on Justice Stevens’ presentation as he read his dissent.  CBS News and the Blog of Legal Times also comment.