Preparations for Citizens United Response Continues in Light of Court Vacancy

Many are predicting that because of the Citizens United decision, the issue of campaign finance may become a hot topic during the confirmation of the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens. President Obama has made some public statements indicating that he would like a nominee who also disapproves of the case. Stevens authored the 90 page dissent in that case. Obama said that he would look for a candidate who understands that "powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens."

RollCall reports that "Republicans will do their best to keep anyone who would overturn it [Citizens United] off the Supreme Court. As a result, the issue is sure to figure prominently in private meetings with the eventual nominee as well as public messaging campaigns and confirmation hearings." Democrats on the other hand, will likely use the ruling as an example of court activism in favor of wealthy interests.

According to Politico, "the administration and congressional aides are gravitating toward a strategy that goes beyond the goals of a run-of-the-mill confirmation fight – to define a corporations-vs.-the-common-man battle between Democrats and the high court."

Meanwhile, as the New York Timesreports, the administration and "Democrats in Congress are close to proposing legislation that would force private companies and groups to disclose their behind-the-scenes financial involvement in political campaigns and advertising." The legislation has not yet been introduced, but reportedly it could be formally introduced by the end of the week or more likely early next week. Further, it is expected to resemble the framework announced two months ago.

Chances that any campaign finance reform bill could be passed to impact the 2010 election remains questionable. Democrats are working to get Republican support to make the bill bipartisan. It will be particularly challenging considering some of the provisions first introduced in February may be vulnerable to future court challenges.

In addition, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is expected to discuss at its next meeting a schedule to write new regulations in response to the recent court decisions. The FEC will not wait for Congress' legislative response.

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