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Citizens United v. FEC(Supreme Court)

In light of the ruling, the restrictions or bans already enacted in 24 states see table below are now in jeopardy. The court did uphold the constitutionality of the government's right to require that corporations, unions and others publicly disclose the expenditures they make advocating for or against candidates. These are commonly referred to as 'independent expenditures,' because they must be made without coordinating with the candidates themselves. Voters will be familiar with the results of these "independent expenditures"—think of the television ads attacking or promoting candidates or referendums to be decided by voters, that end with "Paid for by [Name of Group].

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Unfortunately, due to the typically poor disclosure requirements of such expenditures at the state level, it will be difficult—if not impossible—to measure any changes, should any of these state bans be overturned as a direct result of Citizens United. For more information on the poor state of disclosure of independent expenditures at the state level, see the Institute's report, " Indecent Disclosure.

Citizens United vs. FEC

Not reflected in Appendix A is money to state candidates from party committees, candidates and their committees, and so-called 'small donors," which are those who give amounts low enough to fall under the state's minimum reporting threshold for disclosing the donor's name. Search Ask Anything. Support Register Login. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

State Laws Unaffected by the Citizens United Ruling While the Citizens United ruling was far-reaching in many respects, the Supreme Court did keep intact the government's right to regulate corporate money flowing directly to candidates. More from Voting Rights and Democracy.

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The Roberts Court has a constitutional blindspot. It consistently ignores the many parts of the By: David H. Addressing a closely-decided Supreme Court decision that allows majority legislatures to gerrymander districts to retain There, state disclosure laws revealed that the group was funded by Wal-Mart, and not a group of concerned citizens as the name suggests. At the federal level we are not so lucky.

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Tax-exempt groups like c 4 s, with names like Freedom Loving Americans for Freedom, can accept unlimited money from any source without revealing the names of their donors. These groups can give that money to a PAC and, though the PAC has to disclose its donors, the source of the funds is recorded as the tax-exempt group with the inoffensive name, not the name of the real source of the money.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Oral Arguments

There is no disinfectant. The Court turned its back on the reality recognized by political actors for a century: concentrated wealth has a distorting effect on democracy, therefore, winners in the economic marketplace should not be allowed to dominate the political marketplace. The public supports the prior consensus of the Court. Justice Kennedy blinked when he wrote that "[t]he fact that speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt.

Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption. FEC , which had upheld the very same corporate spending restrictions. The McConnell Court had found that corruption of government is "not confined to bribery of public officials, but extend[s] to the broader threat from politicians too compliant with the wishes of large contributors.

Massey Coal , recognized that an elected official could be, and would certainly appear, indebted to the largest financial supporter of his election.

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Lo and behold, his Supreme Court candidate won, and voted to spare Massey the fine. In that case, Justice Kennedy recognized that the disproportionate independent spending to elect the judge made the judge appear biased. Just as litigants have the right to impartial justice, citizens should have a right to a representative who will fairly weigh the interests of all constituents, not merely moneyed supporters. This undermines the political equality that gives our government legitimacy.

A town hall meeting, or Congress for that matter, has rules so that each person who wants to is able to speak. Montana recently upheld its restrictions on corporate political spending in part to defend the engagement of the electorate. In spending ability, bigger really is better; and with campaign advertising and attack ads, quantity counts.


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In the end, candidates and the public will become mere bystanders in elections. The answer is clear: much less than before Citizens United.