Campaign Finance and the Roberts Court

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

In the 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court struck down sections of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

The law's "prohibition on corporate independent expenditures," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, "is an outright ban on speech."

The case allowed for unlimited campaign spending by corporations, labor unions and similar organizations in elections.

Today, the Court hears McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case that challenges individuals' biennial spending limits on contributions to federal candidates.

As Michael Kang, professor at Emory University Law School, explains, if the Court rules for McCutheon, the case would overturn Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 case decided in the wake of the Watergate scandal, in which the Court ruled that individual campaign spending limits did not violate the First Amendment.


Michael Kang

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [4]

Citizens United doesn't say Corporations have a right to make unlimited campaign donations.
But Corporations have a right to produce their own movies, publications, commercials, etc. that say anything, including comment on political issues and candidates. Would you say a newspaper doesn't have a 1st Amendment [freedom of press] right to make a political editorial? A newspaper corporation? A movie making corporation? A group of people who pool their money to buy an ad? Nature Conservancy? A union? An issue advocacy organization? Or would you only deny free speech to the NRA, based on the content of their message?

Oct. 08 2013 05:12 PM

Interesting choice of a single guest, to explain the McCutcheon case.

I don't know how producers for The Takeaway select guests for spots like this; what I do know is that over time, it is clear in issue after issue, The Takeaway consistently selects journalists and acadmeics who favor left-leaning causes, and who are hostile to Republicans and free-market libertarians.

Prof. Kang really is a highly qualified legal academic. He's too honest, in a sense, to take the bait on John Hockenberry's quick-hit anti-conservative soundbites. But he's not someone who could, and would, offer the full-throated defense of Citizens United v. FEC that the audience deserves to hear. (Along, that is, with the never-ending whining from all corners of public radio and its friends in the Democrat party about how the free speech principles upheld in Citizens United will mean the end of civilization as we knew it.)

But this is all a continuation of the essential dishonesty; with The Takeaway and public radio claiming to be honest brokers of journalistic truth. When in fact they are partisan shapers of opinion.

Oct. 08 2013 02:21 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I don't think I'm even trying to be flippant when I say,"No Politician should be allowed to run for office."

There are American Politicians who care more about their future careers in Politics than they care about their constituents and their needs today.

They know if the country starts to tank economically because of this Government shutdown, who will be blamed? Historically speaking,whoever is in charge will be blamed and then the changing of the guard happens on the next election.
There's a new mantra out there:"Take Out Obama by any means necessary."

It is that simple and that cynical.

Oct. 08 2013 01:07 PM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

Corporations are people? What? Are you nuts? That's about as ridiculous and harmful a concept as one could come up with.

Corporations are legal fictions. They are to be granted only those rights and responsibilities we actual people may grant and remove from time to time.

Surely the host was being ironic. Most definitely the concept of corporate personhood has not been fully accepted since the 1880s. And now more and more actual people are agreeing that we must do away with that monstrous, repugnant concept if human rights, or more broadly, actual humans, are to survive.

Oct. 08 2013 12:36 PM

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