Gavel Grab

NY Times: Court Ignores ‘Disastrous’ Harm From Citizens United

With its action on Monday reaffirming Citizens United, the Supreme Court “has chosen to turn its back as elections are bought by the biggest check writers,” a New York Times editorial said.

The court “couldn’t be bothered” to revisit the “disastrous” effects of Citizens United, the editorial said, suggesting the five justices in the majority couldn’t have been unaware of the impact of the 2010 ruling and related court and administrative decisions:

“They could hardly have missed the $300 million in outside spending that deluged the 2010 Congressional elections or the reports showing that more than $1 billion will be spent by outside groups on Republican candidates this year, overwhelming the competition.

“They might also have seen that many of the biggest donations are secret, given to tax-free advocacy groups in defiance even of the admonition in Citizens United that independent contributions should be disclosed.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a Montana law that barred indirect corporate expenditures on all state elections and declined to reconsider Citizens United.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision ignores the damage that special interest money is inflicting on America’s state courts,”  Bert Brandenburg, JAS executive director, said in a statement. “The threat to fair and impartial elected courts in America is even clearer now than when Citizens United was issued.”

Justice at Stake and eight retired Montana Supreme Court justices had filed an amicus brief in the case. An article in The (Olympia, Wa.) Olympian quoted  Brandenburg.

“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take the opportunity presented by the Montana case to revisit its decision in Citizens United,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, according to a Politico article.

“In the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, we have seen unprecedented amounts of campaign spending, often by groups that won’t disclose their donors,” Schultz said. “Citizens United was wrong when it was decided and as two Supreme Court Justices have observed since, independent expenditures by corporations are threatening the health of our democracy.”

In analysis of the decision, E.J. Dionne wrote “States’ rights, no; corporate rights, yes,” in the Washington Post; Eliza Newlin Carney wrote “Montana Ruling Could Fuel Campaign to Amend Constitution” in Roll Call; the Daily Beast had a piece by Eleanor Clift entitled “Supreme Court Slam-Dunks Campaign-Finance Reform in Montana Case;” and Dahlia Lithwick wrote at Slate, “The court’s conservatives don’t care how much you hate Citizens United.”

In a related article about campaign finance trends, the Los Angeles Times reported, “After winning right to spend, political groups fight for secrecy.”

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