Atlantic: If Citizens United Falls, Will Progressives Notice? (In the News)

Bradley A. Smith

All of this begs a final question: If Citizens United, Speechnow.org, and even Buckley were swept away, how happy would progressives be? In the last campaign-finance case before Buckley, United States v. United Auto Workers (1957), it was the Court’s liberals—Justices William O. Douglas, Earl Warren, and Hugo Black—who argued that regulation was unconstitutional, writing, “It is … important—vitally important—that all channels of communication be open to [the people] during every election, that no point of view be restrained or barred.”

Many Republicans would love to see more restrictions on political activity by unions and progressive advocacy groups. Congress is unlikely to pass any new campaign-finance laws so long as Republicans retain control either house of Congress. But Republicans control a substantial majority of state legislatures, and that is likely to continue even if Democrats score a big presidential win in 2016…

These conservative legislatures are not likely to pass laws limiting political players and activities favoring conservatives; they are more likely to pass laws limiting progressive political influence. Progressives might not like the campaign-finance legislation those legislatures, given new latitude to regulate in a post-Citizens United, post-Buckley world, would produce.

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