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Backlash! Gearing Up for the Response to Citizens United

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  • Backlash! Gearing Up for the Response to Citizens United

    It’s been more than a few hours since our last post. Still, we just can’t seem to shake this Citizens United decision, which will certainly find its way into the next editions of casebooks around the country and could go down as one of the most significant of the Roberts era and. For background, click here, here, here and here.

    The latest: Perhaps spurred by President Obama’s rather angry words last week concerning the decision, Democrats on Capitol Hill are exploring ways to counter the ruling’s potential impact. Writing in Monday’s WSJ, Jess Bravin and Brody Mullins say the case could hand congressional Democrats a populist issue to stem a Republican tide rising on public anger.

    To recap: The court last week ruled 5-4 that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress. The ruling eases decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

    What might possible legislation look like? It could, write Bravin and Mullins, include requiring corporations to obtain shareholder approval before funding political advertisements and blocking companies from deducting election spending as a business expense on their taxes.

    Another proposal, borrowed from existing rules for political candidates, is requiring “the CEO of the corporation to make a declaration at the end of an ad saying, ‘I’m the CEO of X Corp. and I approved this ad,’ ” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), who heads the House Democrats’ campaign committee.

    Democrats hope to paint the Republican position as favoring “even more big money and corporate special interests influencing the outcome of elections,” Van Hollen said. “That should be a wake-up call to many in the Tea Party movement,” who, as in last week’s Senate election in Massachusetts, have flocked to Republican candidates, he said.

    Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the Senate Republican campaign arm, said Democrats are putting their partisan interests ahead of the “constitutional right to free speech and fair elections.”

    And what about John McCain, who co-authored co-authored the bipartisan 2002 McCain-Feingold act cracking down on corporate electioneering? He’s not looking to mount anothe rcharge. He said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that little could be done. “The Supreme Court has spoken,” he said, predicting “an inundation of special-interest money into political campaigns.”

    Both Senate and House committees plan hearings next month on the decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

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