For years, federal campaign spending limits prevented corporations from influencing elections. Those days are over. Today, the Supreme Court has rolled back campaign spending limits for corporations. Now, after years of persecution, corporations can spending freely to support or oppose candidates for President or Congress. From The AP:
By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.
The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.
Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year's midterm congressional elections.
The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.
It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.
Well, thank goodness corporations can't contribute directly. That might look untoward.
Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick lays out the terms of Justice John Paul Stevens' impassioned dissent:
[N]one of that has anything to do with the court's decision to topple decades' worth of legal architecture that had never been questioned in the courts. And Kennedy's visceral terror of speech bans (the word "ban" appears 29 times in his 57-page opinion) and "censorship" seems to override any sort of temperate assessment of either the facts of the case before him, the lack of substantial record in the lower courts, the significance of the cases he is overruling, or the consequences of today's opinion. Perhaps because this is the same Anthony Kennedy who was so exquisitely sensitive to the corrupting influence of money on public confidence in judicial elections in the Caperton case about judicial corruption, it's hard to comprehend what it is about unlimited corporate contributions that so moves him.