Gavel Grab

‘Citizens United’ Poll: A Public Dissent

“The public dissents.”

That’s the apt headline for a commentary by ABC News polling director Gary Langer on the eye-popping numbers documenting public dismay or opposition over the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Fully 80 percent of people surveyed opposed the ruling, which lifted restraints on corporations and unions spending from their treasuries for independent political expenditures–meaning they are not coordinated with candidates up for election. (See Gavel Grab for an earlier report on the poll, by Washington Post-ABC News.)

“The bipartisan nature of these views is striking in these largely partisan times,” writes Langer. He continues:

“The court’s ruling is opposed, respectively, by 76, 81 and 85 percent of Republicans, independents and Democrats; and by 73, 85 and 86 percent of conservatives, moderates and liberals. Majorities in all these groups, ranging from 58 to 73 percent, not only oppose the ruling but feel strongly about it.”

Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 said in a statement the poll results reflected a Supreme Court that is out of touch with the public:

“The Supreme Court majority in the Citizens United case has completely isolated itself from the American people and from the longstanding judicial values and precedents of the Court. It’s hard to conceive of another Supreme Court ruling in which five Justices have found themselves so out of touch with the American people.”

Wertheimer’s views were reported by The Blog of Legal Times, which also pointed out that a defender of the Supreme Court’s decision raised questions about the wording of the poll and whether it influenced the results. You can read the opinion of Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, by clicking here.

A solid report on the impact of Citizens United for states, from the vantage point of Montana, comes from Stateline.org. In a state once “essentially owned by mining companies,” the political landscape changed dramatically in 1912 when voters approved a prohibition on corporate campaign spending and contributions. Now, frets state Attorney General Steve Bullock, “We do not want to be set back a century.”

Thanks to Election Law Blog for also leading Gavel Grab to a critique by Jeffrey Rosen in New Republic entitled “Roberts versus Roberts: Just how radical is the chief justice?”

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, columnist Janice M. Eisen lamented the Supreme Court decision, called for new restrictions on campaign spending and predicted: “The upcoming race to replace Gov. Jim Doyle will be a free-for-all, as corporations and interest groups spend tens of millions of dollars on ads supporting and opposing candidates. So much for the state’s Progressive legacy.”

(Photo  was taken at a rally in Madison, Wisconsin and is published courtesy of Wisconsin Democracy Network.)

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