Citizens United: the day after

The Citizens United constitutional tsunami washed over a broad mass of campaign finance law yesterday, and less than twenty-four hours after the opinion it’s certainly not clear what will be left standing.   Disclosure (at least for now) and disclaimers seem to survive.  Might the opinion presage the ultimate demise of all current and further regulation of so-called outside and independent groups, no matter their form, outside of limitations on direct contributions?

The Washington Times has a report here.

Richard Briffault, a law professor at Columbia Law School, said it will be difficult for Congress to craft legislation to limit business spending, since most corporate law is written at the state level.

He also said it’s not immediately clear how much will change in campaign finance, but expressed doubt about the dire predictions. He noted that about half of states had banned corporations from making independent political expenditures and half had allowed it.

“I don’t think you could see one was demonstrably more politically free,” he said.

The Times talks about lobbyists getting a “weapon” in the ruling.

“We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

Terrain was altered, according to The Times.

The justices in the majority brushed aside warnings about what might follow from their ruling in favor of a formal but fervent embrace of a broad interpretation of free speech rights.

One person’s “brush aside” is another person’s thoughtful and careful analysis…

The Post went “big picture” in this piece about the Court acting boldly.

Roberts has shown himself more willing than his mentor and predecessor, William H. Rehnquist, to question the court’s past decisions. Alito’s replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has tipped the court’s balance from supportive of congressional efforts to reduce the influence of special interests to suspicious of how the restrictions curtail free speech.

The Post’s main story today is here.

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the role of corporations in political campaigns, ruling that companies can dip into their treasuries to spend as much as they want to support or oppose individual candidates.

Some editorial boards have opinions on the case.  The Times proclaims a return to the era of robber-barons.   The Post says the Court “lunged,” offering the same PAC argument that Citizens United rejects.

Could we see a legislative response soon?  The Hill examines the prospects.

Comments are closed.