Citizens United Revised … Upward?

Is the Supreme Court about to remove all limits on campaign contributions?

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a challenge to federal campaign contribution limits, setting the stage for what may turn out to be the most important federal campaign finance case since the court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, which struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions.

The latest case is an attack on the other main pillar of federal campaign finance regulation: limits on contributions made directly to political candidates and some political committees.

“In Citizens United, the court resisted tinkering with the rules for contribution limits,” said Richard L. Hasen, an expert on election law at the University of California, Irvine. “This could be the start of chipping away at contribution limits.”

The central question is in one way modest and in another ambitious. It challenges only aggregate limits — overall caps on contributions to several candidates or committees — and does not directly attack the more familiar basic limits on contributions to individual candidates or committees….NYT

Confused? The challenge was brought by an Alabama Republican voter who doesn’t like the limits imposed on him.

The justices said today they will hear an appeal from the Republican National Committee and an Alabama voter, Shaun McCutcheon, who says he would like to contribute more than the $123,200 allowed under federal law. …

…The case before the court doesn’t affect the maximum amount donors can give to individual candidates, party committees or PACs. Instead, it concerns the amount people can contribute to those entities in total every two years….

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington advocacy group that supports limits on donations, said removing the aggregate limits would make it easier for donors to evade limits on how much they can give to each individual candidate. Candidates who have enough campaign money often donate some of theirs to colleagues.

That “would do extraordinary damage to the nation’s ability to prevent the corruption of federal officeholders and government decisions,” Wertheimer said. ...Bloomberg

NPR’s view is ominous:

The justices today didn’t deal with another case on their doorstep — one that would overturn the 1907 ban on corporate contributions directly to candidates. By one theory, the justices want to poke a constitutional hole in the contribution limits first, before taking up the corporate-money ban.

Rick Hasen, a law professor and campaign-finance scholar at the University of California, Irvine, tells NPR he expects the court may use the McCutcheon case to set standards for challenging the hard-money limits. “If the court does that,” he says, “then a whole host of campaign contribution limits could be subject to future challenge.” ...NPR

Or here’s another way of looking at it. This could be a guarantee of Democratic wins in 2016 and beyond. Not because the money follows the Democrats but because increasing numbers of voters are disgusted by the money/elections issue and the current composition of the Supreme Court.

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Kathleen Parker, a moderate Republican (or maybe a conservative Dem), sees the possibility of Republicans regrouping.

RINO-hunting, the long-popular political sport that morphed in 2008 into a sort of hysteria-driven obsession, lately has become a suicide mission.

RINO, of course, refers to Republicans In Name Only and is the pejorative term used against those who fail to march in lockstep with the so-called conservative base. I used “so-called” because, though the hard-right faction of the party tends to be viewed as The Base, this isn’t necessarily so. My guess is there are now more RINOs than those who, though evangelical in their zeal, are poison to their party’s ability to win national elections. …WaPo

I think she’s right, no matter which way she votes. She admits she avoids labels, herself. So, apparently, do RINO’s. But please, she writes, get it together!

Ever seen a RINO in one of those silly hats that screams: “I Belong! I Am A Member Of The Party!”? No. They tend to be discreet — strangers in a strange land, keeping a low profile and an eye cracked for signs of fellow travelers. At most, they gather in smallish groups and dine on ironically named dishes such as Baked Alaska. At their most enthusiastic, they form polite alliances, such as the “No Labels,” um, something.

Sorry, guys. The sentiment behind no-labels is at the core of my very being, though I prefer Walker Percy’s more eloquent imperative that we should repent of labels. It is the essence of my Moi-ness: Stop fussing and fix it. But movements don’t begin with “No.” No-labels is a non without a sequitur. A yield without a merge. A .?.?. non-starter.

Thus, what has become glaringly clear is that RINOs need to stop being so normal and grant their better angels a sabbatical. Forget taking back the country. Start by taking back your party. Do it for your country.

RINOs: The Strong. The Proud. The Many. ...WaPo

Of course, the question is whether they like the nutcases their party has foisted off on America via the Supreme Court.

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

Supreme Court photo via shutterstock.com

Author: PRAIRIE WEATHER

  • petew

    I hope Prairie weather is correct. Perhaps Democrats stand a good chance to be elected in 2014 and 2016 basically because voters are so tired of the GOP pursuing unethical paths rife with double talk and (enhanced BS)!—my phrase.

    Of all the scams and fraudulent schemes ever conceived of by Republicans, Citizens United seems to be one of the most criticized and indefensible partisan Court rulings ever to come from the SCOTUS. I often wonder if the individual mandate was given a pass just to make up for previous transgressions that festered in the minds of its conservative members.

    It is really unfortunate that the GOP, or any party for that matter, is able to sway public opinion by cleverly applied propaganda based almost entirely on fear.

    Obama had to infuse massive amounts of stimulus money and TARP funding into the economy because that’s what the situation called for! He also intended the ACA to be a solution for the self destruct trajectory that the private insurance industry was creating, and, he had promised to do all of these things when campaigning—except that, because his stimulus spending began soon after his election, at first, it was uncertain how much would need to be spent.

    The funny thing is, I believe historians will see that the stimulus and TARP fundings were important and necessary steps towards recovery. We can only hope that one day the Court will amend or tweak its own opinions and recognize that, in a Democracy, free speech is not to be bought for any price, and that Citizens United gives the obvious APPEARANCE of corruption, even if, by some convoluted form of reasoning, The Court may not consider it as ACTUALLY BEING corrupt! They are known to have sighted a large number of purple Unicorns in their chambers too!