Let's have more calls to upend the Citizens United ruling
The Kansas City Star
Good for the Kansas City Council. I consider it a point of pride that the elected officials unanimously approved a resolution opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s horrible “Citizens United” ruling, which opened the door to the tsunami of campaign money that is polluting this year’s elections.
The resolution by itself won’t cause anything to happen, of course. But by adding its voice to that of other cities and groups, the Kansas City Council adds weight to the growing call for the Supremes to revisit the issue of campaign spending.
They absolutely need to. As this story by the Chicago Tribune’s Washington Bureau explains, the justices themselves may be alarmed at what their ruling created.
As the writers explain:
… the impact of the Citizens United decision has been as surprising and controversial as the ruling. Although the high court’s 5-4 decision is best known for saying corporations may spend freely on campaign ads, the gusher of money pouring into this year’s campaigns mostly hasn’t involved corporate funds. And some practices that critics of the decision decry actually stem from a later case decided by a federal appellate court after Citizens United.
The appellate decision, in the case SpeechNow.org vs. FEC, cited Citizens United for its reasoning that if the First Amendment guarantees unrestricting political spending, then political action committees should also be able to collect unlimited sums, as long as they, like corporations, are “independent,” meaning not directly linked to a candidate.
That, as we have seen, is ludicrous. The two rulings have caused people with close ties to candidates to set up super PACs, able to raise unlimited sums of money from wealthy people and spend them on negative campaign ads. It is the most dramatic corruption of our political process to come along in years.
People seeking reform are asking the Supreme Court to take up a Montana case that raises many of the campaign finance issues seen in Citizens United. For the sake of the nation, let’s hope the justices see fit to do that.
In the meantime, it couldn’t hurt for more local governments and individual citizens to go on record.