-By Dan Froomkin
March 24, 2012- WASHINGTON — The two most controversial campaign financing practices of the post-Citizens United era aren’t actually the Supreme Court’s fault.
The court's conservative majority most certainly expected that its 2010 ruling, which granted First Amendment rights to corporations and equated money to speech, would unleash unprecedented amounts of political spending.
But when people rail against Citizens United these days, they’re often complaining about two things in particular: the candidate-specific super PACs that implausibly claim to be independent of the candidates they’re backing, and the political slush funds that can accept unlimited secret donations by claiming to be issue-oriented nonprofits.
Neither were inevitable byproducts of Citizens United — or a subsequent lower court ruling.
-By Ian Millhiser
March 9, 2012- During a speech at Wesleyan University last night, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia offered a strange revision of the time he joined with four of his conservative colleagues to make George W. Bush president:
At the end of the speech, Scalia took questions from the audience. One person asked about the Bush-Gore case, where the Supreme Court had to determine the winner of the election.
“Get over it,” Scalia said of the controversy surrounding it, to laughter from the audience.“
Scalia reminded the audience it was Gore who took the election to court, and the election was going to be decided in a court anyway—either the Florida Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg knows the Citizens United decision was a mistake. Now she appears to be ready to speak truth to power.
-By Richard L. Hasen
February 20, 2012- In 18 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has written more than 200 opinions on a number of important topics, including major opinions on everything from copyright law to abortion rights to employment discrimination. But in the area of campaign finance, she’s authored only one inconsequential two-paragraph concurring opinion—in one of the Supreme Court’s recent cases striking down parts of the McCain-Feingold law—in which she distanced herself from a more far-reaching dissent of Justice Stevens. She’s been a reliable vote to uphold reasonable campaign-finance laws, but this has hardly been her signature issue.
Last week, however, Justice Ginsburg issued a short statement that hinted she is ready to speak out more boldly. She, like many Americans, appears concerned with the rise of super PACs and the disturbing role money is playing in the 2012 campaign season since the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Justice Ginsburg likely won’t have the votes to overturn Citizens United, but she soon will be in a position to expose the disingenuousness at the ruling’s core.
Fevruary 17, 2012- WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday blocked a Montana court ruling upholding limits on corporate campaign spending. The state court ruling appears to be at odds with the high court’s 2010 decision striking down a federal ban on those campaign expenditures.
The justices put the Montana ruling on hold while they consider an appeal from corporations seeking to be free of spending limits. The state argues, and the Montana Supreme Court agreed, that political corruption gave rise to the century-old ban on corporate campaign spending.
In the 2010 Citizens United case, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled that independent spending by corporations does “not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a dissenter in Citizens United, issued a brief statement for herself and Justice Stephen Breyer saying that campaign spending since the decision makes “it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.’”
-By Mike Sacks
February 17, 2012- WASHINGTON — The calls for Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from the health care cases to be heard in March took a theatrical turn at the Supreme Court on Friday morning as two liberal advocacy groups unspooled a petition containing over 100,000 signatures stretching about 300 feet from the sidewalk to the Court's steps. The stunt, however, was quickly stymied by swirling morning winds that tangled and tore the taped-together pieces of paper containing the names and comments of the petition's signatories.