Citizens United v. FEC Round-up
on Jan 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm
Reactions to todayâ€™s decision dominated the news cycle.Â The BBC reviews the decision, noting that it â€œends a 20-year ban on businesses using money from their own funds to pay for campaign ads.â€Â 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).Â SCOTUSblogâ€™s own Lyle Denniston points out questions left unanswered by todayâ€™s opinion: can foreign corporations with U.S. operations advertise for political candidates?Â Are the restrictions lifted on corporations also lifted from unions?Â What, if any, is the distinction between â€œissue advocacy and â€œexpress advocacyâ€?Â At Newsweekâ€™s The Gaggle, Krista Gesaman distinguishes between donations to campaigns and investing in advertising, noting that â€œas long as corporations donâ€™t interact with a specific political campaign, they can directly buy ad time to support a candidate.â€Â The Volokh Conspiracy also covers the decision, as does NPR.Â 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.Â At the New York Timesâ€™ blog, Jeff Zeleny posits that Republicans will benefit financially from the decision.Â Republicans regard the decision as an important â€œvictory for the First Amendment,â€ while Democrats see the decision as â€œbad for democracy,â€ says Zeleny. Â CNNâ€™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.Â And Daniel Fisher of Forbes remarks that the holding â€œcan be summed up in a few words: â€˜Money talks. And that’s OK.â€™â€Â 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.Â The WSJ Law Blog and ACSblog also anticipate changes to the upcoming election cycle.
Some respondents describe the decision as a First Amendment victory.Â The Pacific Legal Foundation concludes that the decision will â€œreinvigorateâ€ speech protection throughout the country.Â 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.Â The decision, she remarks, contests the view that â€œcertain speakers and certain messagesâ€ should be silenced so others â€œfeel more comfortable speaking.â€Â And Roger Pilon, at Catoâ€™s blog, writes that the decision is a victory for the First Amendment, and that â€œwe are the stronger for todayâ€™s decision.â€
Other commentators expressed concern over the decision.Â Jon Talton writes for the Seattle Times that the decision could â€œunleash up to $1 trillion in corporate money.â€Â The Justice at Stake campaign compares the decision to â€œpouring gasolineâ€ on special interest spending in judicial elections.Â Daniel Farber, of the Center for Progressive Reform, concludes that the decision â€œopens the doorâ€ for foreign influence over elections.Â Richard HasenÂ , writing at Slate, critiques the finding in the case, which he suggests is â€œin violation of its usual rule ofÂ stare decisis.â€Â (Hasen does note that he is honored to have his book footnoted in Chief Justice Robertsâ€™ opinion.)Â Â The ACSblog and Huffington Post also comment.