We’ve had Citizens United for ten hours. News round-ups abound. A proprietor of a neighborhood barbershop can now put a sign up in his shop window supporting the candidate of his choosing. A large corporation can run a few million dollars in ads expressly supporting a candidate for office. A number of law firms have issued client alerts, like this one, this one, this one, and this one. A lot of interest groups issued releases, including PIRG, the Center for Competitive Politics, Democracy21, and CATO. The President issued a statement. The relevance of blogs (yay me!) and YouTube were cited in the opinion. (It’s the Court’s first use of the term “blog,” according to Volokh.) There’s a lot to digest.
So, which Fortune 500 company is going to be the first to “play”? Well, not so fast. In its amicus brief, the Democratic National Committee explained that
[c]orporate “independent spending,” if sanctioned by a reversal of Austin, raises a host of other questions unique to the corporate sector. For example, may a corporation running a full lobbying operation in regular contact with Members successfully establish independence from those same Members when proposing to spend without limit on their campaigns?
This isn’t a new question to large non-profits and some PACs, but the question might require a little more than ten hours’ thought to answer wisely in a post-CU world.
Much, much more on Citizens United to come.
P.S. To answer my own question from July: The Supreme Court says, “No.”
P.P.S. HasAustinBeenOverruled.com? Yes.