“… is to allow citizens to monitor government, not to allow government to monitor citizens.” — Center for Competitive Politics on Sen. Dick Durbin’s demand that private donors provide information about their involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization for state legislators, and with the issue of “stand your ground” self-defense law.
Eugene Volokh in a Federalist Society video on campaign regulation and the First Amendment. A dissent: Scott Greenfield.
P.S. Beware of setting up a state-level group to promote controversial views on issues, even if promoting candidates is not your primary purpose [Adler on cert petition in Corsi v. Ohio Elections Commission]
“Attention, liberals: The ACLU wouldn’t be able to sue the NSA if it weren’t for Citizens United.” [Wendy Kaminer, The Atlantic]
They “propose giving Congress unchecked new power over spending on political speech” [John Samples, Cato Policy Analysis] More on Citizens United here, here, here (Democrats’ platform), here, here (Michael Kinsley: case was “correctly decided”), here, here, here (Wendy Kaminer), here, here, here, here (unions as beneficiaries), even more, and on the “corporations aren’t people” sound bite and related rights-abolishing proposals, here, here, here, and here.
P.S. Self-recommending: forthcoming Michael McConnell in YLJ on Citizens United.
Brad Smith on how Woodrow Wilson and Henry Ford used early versions of campaign finance law to settle scores with Michigan opponent Truman Newberry [Law and Liberty]
Great moments in international human rights: “United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups … Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week.” OSCE stands for “Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects.” [Alexander Bolton, The Hill]
More: Julian Ku writes that although the OSCE is transnational, it is not “U.N.-affiliated,” and notes that contrary to some speculation, the observers’ appearance was unrelated to a separate request to the U.N. by the NAACP asking it to regulate voting methods in the U.S.
…take note of what labor unions are doing on the Michigan ballot [Emilio Rocca/CEI, earlier] More: Shikha Dalmia, WSJ.
“Liberals ought to show the chief justice that we too can acknowledge a principle even when we don’t agree with the result.” [LA Times] Given how execrated the Citizens United decision is on the left, should we expect it to cause a rift in the ACLU, which supports it? [Wasserman, Prawfs]
Must-read Mark Steyn: “Edwards now faces 30 years in jail, for the crime of getting a couple of pals to pay for his baby’s diapers. For purposes of comparison, Anders Breivik murdered 77 people and is looking at 21 years in jail, the maximum sentence permitted under Norwegian law.” Contra: Hans von Spakovsky argues that the prosecutors’ argument is not such a stretch. And Beldar predicts the issue on which the jury’s verdict may turn. Earlier here, here, etc.
Ed Whelan charges the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin with spinning the history of the First Amendment campaign regulation case [first, second, followup] Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSBlog, while sympathetic to Toobin’s overall project, also takes issue with him at numerous points. More: Adam White, Weekly Standard; Sam Bagenstos (what is supposed to have been so devious about Roberts’ handling of the case?); Howard Wasserman (why does Citizens United get singled out for demonization from among the several Court opinions pointing the same way?).
In the Washington Post, Boston College lawprof Kent Greenfield clears up some misconceptions:
Citizens United did not hold corporations to be persons, and the court has never said corporations deserve all the constitutional rights of humans. The Fifth Amendment’s right to be free from self-incrimination, for example, does not extend to corporations. … Humans gather themselves in groups, for public and private ends, and sometimes it makes constitutional sense to protect the group as distinct from its constituent humans.
The question in any given case is whether protecting the association, group or, yes, corporation serves to protect the rights of actual people. Read fairly, Citizens United merely says that banning certain kinds of corporate expenditures infringes the constitutional interests of human beings. The court may have gotten the answer wrong, but it asked the right question.
Another reason to protect corporate rights is to guard against the arbitrary and deleterious exercise of government power. If, for example, the Fifth Amendment’s ban on government “takings” did not extend to corporations, the nationalization of entire industries would be constitutionally possible. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the FBI from barging into the offices of Google without a warrant and seizing the Internet history of its users. A freedom of the press that protected only “natural persons” would allow the Pentagon to, say, order the New York Times and CNN to cease reporting civilian deaths in Afghanistan.
The actual Citizens United case, as distinct from the later caricature, was over whether the government had a constitutional right to punish private actors for distributing a video critical of a prominent politician (Hillary Clinton) before an election, which helps explain why the ACLU and many other civil libertarians took the pro-free-speech side. More: Caleb Brown at Cato.