Today’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC transforms the political landscape by restoring First Amendment rights to businesses, unions and advocacy groups. It unequivocally means more speech in campaigns, and voters will have access to more diverse and robust information as a result.
The Center for Competitive Politics delved into the Court’s opinion and explains what it all means for political speech rights going into the 2010-2012 election cycles…
CCP held a conference call this morning after the Court announced its ruling with a bipartisan group of campaign finance experts.
The transcript of the opening remarks of CCP Chairman Brad Smith and other commentators, which serves as CCP’s press statement on this ruling, is available in CCP’s Newsroom. Full audio of CCP’s call (approx. 50 minutes) will be available soon. Participants included top campaign finance litigator Jim Bopp, former FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky, former DNC general counsel Joe Sandler and longtime ACLU attorney Joel Gora.
Immediately after the conference call, Brad participated in a live chat at Politico‘s Arena.
His op-ed, “Court Ruling Is a Victory for Free Speech,” appeared in AOL News‘ opinion portal, Sphere:
In March, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart stood before the U.S. Supreme Court and argued that the Constitution gave the government the power to ban the distribution of a politically oriented movie if, like most movies, it was distributed by a corporation. Justice Samuel Alito replied, “That’s pretty incredible.”
By the time Stewart’s turn at the podium was over, he told the court that the government could restrict the distribution of books through Amazon’s digital book reader, Kindle; could prevent a union from hiring a writer to author a political book; and could prohibit a corporate publisher from publishing a 500-page book if it contained even one line of candidate advocacy.
Today, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court said, “No, it can’t.”
National Public Radio‘s analysis by Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg quotes Brad at about the 6:00 mark:
At the federal level, I think there’s no reason to believe that we’re going to see the kind of out-pouring that some of the more histrionic horror stories have said. We expect to see more speech. We think that’s a good thing. But the idea that corporations are going to devote 10 percent of their profits, or something like that, is just absurd.
A CQ-Roll Call story cited Brad’s sober analysis of the impact of Citizens United:
Other campaign finance groups had a milder reaction. Brad Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, said the decision will undoubtedly increase the amount of money in the political system. But the former Republican FEC commissioner argues that such an uptick would be a positive development.
“This case will lead to more political spending in elections,” he said. “Speech is important and this will be good in allowing unions and corporations to speak. Unions and corporations often have a particular point of view as unions and as corporations about how candidates and issues will affect them. It’s important that those voices are heard.”
The Hill’s reaction story features Brad’s opining as well:
“This case will lead to more spending in political elections and all of us here think that’s a good thing,” said Brad Smith, a Republican-appointed former commissioner at the Federal Election Commission who now heads the Center for Competitive Politics, a free-market campaign finance group.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s story, “Supreme Court crushes campaign finance restrictions,” quotes Brad:
Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and former FEC chairman, said the decision would lead to more ads.
“Speech is important and this will be good in allowing union and corporations to speak,” he said.
The Huffington Post‘s story on Citizens United’s impact, “Supreme Court Rolls Back Campaign Finance Restrictions,” also quotes Brad:
Brad Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, a group that filed an amicus brief in the case and since 2005 has advocated against campaign spending limits, praised the decision during a conference call with reporters.
“Most of us think that’s good thing,” he said. “Speech is important and this will be good in allowing unions and corporations to speak.”
National Journal/Hotline features this comment from Brad in its analysis, “GOPers, Chamber Big Winners In SCOTUS Ruling“:
“This case will lead to more spending, I think, in political elections,” said Brad Smith, chair of the Center for Competitive Politics and a former FEC commissioner.
Brad also posted a quick note on National Review Online‘s bench memos blog about the congressional reaction to Citizens United:
Examing the congressional reaction to Citizens United v. FEC, we start with the always entertaining Alan
Grayson, who last week preemptively introduced a package of bills with such bombastic titles as “The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act,” …
CCP President Sean Parnell has commentary in Pajamas Media: “Supreme Court Strikes Down Campaign Finance Laws.” An excerpt:
In practical terms, the decision simply means that incorporated entities such as General Electric, the United Auto Workers, the National Rifle Association, and the American Society of Travel Agents can now run ads from their general treasury funds that urge people to vote for or against a specific candidate…
CCP Vice President Steve Hoersting also posted a quick analysis on National Review Online’s bench memos blog, in a post called “Freedom in Citizens United“:
Today, in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court overturned its 1990 precedent, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, removing the prohibition on corporations seeking to finance independent, electoral advertising without using political action committees funded by employees. The Court also, and necessarily, invalidated McCain-Feingold’s ban on corporate electioneering advertising within 60 days of a general election.
Corporate contributions to candidates, party committees, and political committees remain banned, whether direct or in-kind (think coordination).
CCP Communications Director Jeff Patch is quoted in USA Today’s story, “Supreme Court rolls back campaign spending limits”:
Jeff Patch of the Center for Competitive Politics, which favors fewer restrictions, called the decision “a win for the First Amendment political rights of small businesses, grassroots groups and others who now can avoid the burden of running through a regulatory maze before speaking out in campaigns.”
In another CQ-Roll Call story, “Supreme Court Knocks Down Corporate Spending Limits,” Jeff says:
“This is not a radical decision because more than half of the states already have these provisions allowing unions and corporations to spend their general treasury funds on direct advocacy … There are not any cases of corruption due to independent expenditures that anyone can point to.”
National Public Radio’s Political Junkie blog round-up, “Supreme Court Ruling: No More Ban On Corporate Campaign Money,” quotes CCP’s blog:
A transformative opinion issued by the U.S. Supreme Court today restores the First Amendment rights of businesses, unions and nonprofit advocacy groups to participate in campaigns. It’s an extraordinary win for free political speech rights by speakers of all stripes.
Last, but not least, the Maine Public Broadcast Network looks at how the decision might impact local politics and an effort by Rep. Chellie Pingree to pass congressional tax financed campaigns:
“This decision is refreshing, because it’s really a transformative opinion that has the Supreme Court affirming the First Amendment rights of all groups — businesses, unions, non-profit advocacy groups — to participate in campaigns,” says Jeff Patch of the Washington D.C.-based Center For Competitive Politics, a non-profit whose stated mission is to promote and defend citizens’ First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly, and petition.
Note: this post will be continuously updated to add comments on Citizens United.