How Does the Citizens United Decision Affect Elections? Future of Campaign Finance Laws (2013)

Published on Jul 11, 2014

President Barack Obama stated that the decision "gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates". Obama later elaborated in his weekly radio address saying, "this ruling strikes at our democracy itself" and "I can't think of anything more devastating to the public interest". On January 27, 2010, Obama further condemned the decision during the 2010 State of the Union Address, stating that, "Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

Democratic senator Russ Feingold, a lead sponsor of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, stated "This decision was a terrible mistake. Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president." Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat, stated that it was "the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case, and that the court had opened the door to political bribery and corruption in elections to come. Democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards, along with constitutional law professor and Maryland Democratic State Senator Jamie Raskin, have advocated petitions to reverse the decision by means of constitutional amendment. Rep. Leonard Boswell introduced legislation to amend the constitution. Senator John Kerry also called for an Amendment to overrule the decision. On December 8, 2011, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed the Saving American Democracy Amendment, which would reverse the court's ruling.

Republican Senator John McCain, co-crafter of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and the party's 2008 presidential nominee, said "there's going to be, over time, a backlash ... when you see the amounts of union and corporate money that's going to go into political campaigns".[67] McCain was "disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court and the lifting of the limits on corporate and union contributions" but not surprised by the decision, saying that "It was clear that Justice Roberts, Alito and Scalia, by their very skeptical and even sarcastic comments, were very much opposed to BCRA."[60] Republican Senator Olympia Snowe opined that "Today's decision was a serious disservice to our country."[68]

Although federal law after Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission still prohibited corporate contributions to all political parties, Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party, stated that "The ruling especially hurts the ability of parties that don't accept corporate contributions, like the Green Party, to compete." Another Green Party officer, Rich Whitney, stated "In a transparently political decision, a majority of the US Supreme Court overturned its own recent precedent and paid tribute to the giant corporate interests that already wield tremendous power over our political process and political speech."

Ralph Nader, a lawyer who placed third in the popular vote in the presidential elections of 2000, 2004, and 2008, condemned the ruling,[69] saying that "With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars." He called for shareholder resolutions asking company directors to pledge not to use company money to favor or oppose electoral candidates.[70] Pat Choate, former Reform Party candidate for Vice President, stated, "The court has, in effect, legalized foreign governments and foreign corporations to participate in our electoral politics."[71]

Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, speaking for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's election body, which has overseen over 150 elections, stated that the ruling may adversely affect the organization's two commitments of "giving voters a genuine choice and giving candidates a fair chance" in that "it threatens to further marginalize candidates without strong financial backing or extensive personal resources, thereby in effect narrowing the political arena".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens..