CCP statement on Citizens United rehearing

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released the following statement on today’s announcement by the Supreme Court that Citizens United v. FEC will be reargued:

The Court specifically asked if it should overrule Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce or the portion of McConnell v. FEC that upheld the facial validity of the electioneering communications prohibition in McCain-Feingold — or both.

“For two decades Austin has been the odd man out in the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence, creating a great deal of mischief with its sloppy holding that appeared to equate less than perfect equality in spending with political corruption,” said Bradley A. Smith, the Chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a former FEC Chairman. “It’s past time Austin got the boot, and we are convinced that when the case is reargued this fall, that will become apparent to the Court.”

“Overruling Austin would strengthen First Amendment rights and allow Americans to more fully participate in our political system,” said Stephen M. Hoersting, CCP’s Vice President. “Independent speech by any speaker cannot corrupt our democracy, it enriches it.”

The Court in Austin decided it could restrict even independent corporate speech in connection with elections based on the idea that spending in political races should reflect preexisting public opinion.

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) is a non-profit organization which seeks to protect the First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly, and petition. CCP filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case supporting Citizens United and anticipates filing another brief when the case is reargued this fall.