Over 40 Briefs Filed In Citizens United
by Amanda Adams*
Aug 5, 2009
As the Supreme Court prepares to potentially alter the campaign finance system, over 41 briefs have been filed to weigh in on the Citizens United case. BNA Money and Politics ($$) considers the brief that stands out the most was filed by the AFL-CIO, which called for elimination of the ban on corporate and union funding of electioneering communications.
Arguments about whether corporate and union spending poses a possible corruption threat may be key to the Citizens United case, according to legal experts. That is because a majority of the Court, as currently composed, seems hostile to any rationale that campaign finance restrictions can be used to "level the playing field" between wealthy interests and others of lesser means. Defenders of spending restrictions, including BCRA's [Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act] original congressional sponsors, filed briefs arguing that corporate and union spending does threaten to corrupt American politics.
Meanwhile, the National Journal's Under the Influence blog takes a look at an interesting brief which addresses how a decision would affect the economy. According to the brief, corporate election spending would weaken the economy because corporate managers would be tempted to use company treasuries for personal political gain.
An opinion piece in the Washington Post charges that overruling Austin would be disastrous. "The floodgates would be opened for corporations, and labor unions, to run ads supporting or attacking candidates - not only in federal campaigns, but in the 22 states that now prohibit such spending. The only restriction would be that they couldn't give to candidates directly."
Instead, the Court, "could say that because Citizens United took such a small amount of corporate money, it should not be subjected to the same rules as a regular for-profit corporation. (This is already true for ideological nonprofit groups that don't take any corporate funds.) It could say an on-demand video is not the same as a commercial."
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