U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Citizens United

June 25, 2012

In a curt, two-paragraph ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Montana Supreme Court ruling which obstructed the First Amendment rights of corporations and other organizations and flouted the two-year-old Citizens United decision.

A 5-4 majority refused to consider Montana’s challenge to Citizens United and held that “Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.”

The Montana Threat to the First Amendment

June 11, 2012

In previous posts, I’ve discussed how Montana is now the sharp end of the spear in the liberal effort to overturn the Citizens United decision which held that the government cannot abridge the First Amendment rights of companies, labor unions or other organizations.  Montana’s Supreme Court is defying that ruling, so the state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse its decision.

As George Will has pointed out, “reasons for the Supreme Court to reconsider Citizens United are nonexistent.”  But Montana’s Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer is giving it a shot anyway.  In a remarkable New York Times op-ed, Schweitzer yearns for the halcyon pre-Citizens United days when Montana legislators were “basically volunteers” – “ranchers, teachers, carpenters” who “put their professions on hold” to selflessly serve that state for $80 a day for 90 days every other year.

In February, however, Montana was forced to stop enforcing its restrictions on corporate campaign contributions.  Since then, according to Schweitzer, all Hell has broken use.  Now the once virtuous collection of rancher/teacher/carpenter legislators are throwing up bills to “build condos right on the edge of [Montana’s] legendary trout stream” and encourage the “use of cyanide to mine gold.”  Luckily, Schweitzer was on hand to veto these bills, but “future governors might sign them if they have been bribed by the same type of money that is now corrupting” legislators.  Once that happens, Montana will sadly follow the “Washington model of corruption” – where “corporation legally bribe members of Congress by bankrolling their campaigns … and get whatever they need in return.”

Schweitzer makes it sound like the only thing standing between righteousness and corruption is Citizens United. But as Senator Mitch McConnell pointed out in an amicus brief in opposition to Montana’s attempt to reverse the case, prior to Citizens United, 26 states had no restrictions on corporate independent expenditures, all without any apparent corrupting influence on legislators.  Since the ruling, not a single Fortune 100 company has contributed a cent to any of the eight Super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates, despite doomsday warnings from President Obama that “big oil, Wall Street banks [and] health insurance companies” – the unholy trinity in the liberal imagination – would swoop in to buy elections.

The point is, left-wing hysteria from politicians like Schweitzer is just a bunch of noise.  Moreover, the public has ample protections against corrupt politicians that don’t require chucking the First Amendment into the trash bin.  Those protections are called elections.

Update on the Next Citizens United

May 31, 2012

George Will has a must read column on the attempt by the Montana Supreme Court to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.  While the Professional Left, including Justice at Stake, is hoping the Supreme Court will use the Montana case to overturn Citizens United, Will writes that reasons to reverse the decision are “nonexistent” and suggests “there is no evidence for [opponents'] assertion that 2012 has been dominated by corporate money unleashed” by the case.

Of the more than $96 million collected by Super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates through March 31, over 86% has been contributed by individuals and less than 1% from public companies.  According to Senator Mitch McConnell, “not a single one of the Fortune 100 companies has contributed a cent” to any of these Super PACs.  So much for the claim that corporate money would flood political races.

As Will points out:

The “media and liberal anxiety was not conspicuous in 2004, when George Soros spent $24 million supporting Democratic candidates.  Back then, the liberal/media complex embraced this Supreme Court principle enunciated in 1976:  ‘The concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment.’”

Will suggests that the Professional Left’s “concentration on rigging the rules of political persuasion” are directly related to the “collapse of … confidence in their ability to persuade” voters to accept their candidates.  This is the same game the Soros-funded “merit” selection gang plays when they try to restrict public participation in judicial selection:  They hate the judges people vote for … so they use “merit” selection and other tactics to rig the rules to keep ordinary citizens on the sidelines.

The Next Citizens United?

March 30, 2012

Three corporations have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Montana Supreme Court decision that upheld a state ban on independent political expenditures by companies.  James Bopp, lead counsel for the corporations and the driver of the landmark Citizens United case, called the lawsuit a defense of the First Amendment.

Despite the Citizens United ruling, the Montana Supreme Court claimed the state had the power to ban political speech because of Montana’s “uniqueness,” particularly its history of corruption in campaigns.  The U.S. Supreme Court has already stayed the Montana Supreme Court’s decision while deciding whether to review the case.