Citizens United -- the rightwing non-profit whose scurrilous film about Hillary Clinton raised the issue that led to the ruling that corporations may pay for "ads expressly promoting or attacking political candidates" -- has been adamant all along: no "disclosure."
Justice Kennedy, who read the Citizens United decision, "shot that down," as NPR put it in their latest report.
With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation's political speech advances the corporation's interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are in the pocket' of so-called moneyed interests. ..NPR
But, as NPR went on to report yesterday, corporations are ignoring the requirement.
... Despite what Kennedy said, secret money has become the real growth area in campaign politics.
Crossroads GPS, co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, joined with a handful of other conservative "social welfare" organizations, spent more than $30 million on ads attacking President Obama through the end of May.
Crossroads then announced a new ad buy of $25 million.
Tax records show that its donors have included between a dozen and two dozen contributors of at least $1 million each. A couple of the contributors gave as much as $10 million.
This handful of anonymous donors accounted for nearly 90 percent of all the money raised by Crossroads GPS in 2010 and 2011. ...NPR
Result: there's a whole new industry out there -- the political machine and the media will see more and ever-larger anonymous donations and the legal system will see more and more challenges to the Citizens United decision. Not the whole decision, just the part of it that requires disclosure of the sources of the tens and hundreds of millions buying political outcomes.
Most states just nullified their bans, but some states, including those that had not prohibited corporate independent expenditures, also passed legislation or regulations that enhanced the disclosure of independent expenditures.
The most creative provisions adopted by the states include those that require the names of the top contributors to be listed in the ad (Alaska, California and North Carolina); require that corporate board members approve the independent spending (Iowa); require that shareholders be informed of corporate political spending directly (Maryland); and mandate that the chief executive officer appear in the ad (Connecticut).
Next week, the issue returns to the precincts of the devils that gave us the Citizens United decision: the US Supreme Court will be hearing about the Montana Supreme Court defying their evil eminences and ruling to uphold that state's Corrupt Practices Act. Charles Pierce at Esquire writes that "the Supreme Court of the United States will find on its docket a case whereby it will decide whether to hear — or simply to overturn without comment — the ruling by the Montana Supremes..."
Of course, the supremist Supremes have already shown plenty of scorn for states' Supreme Courts.
Still, Mark Schmitt reminds us that the Supreme Court anticipated the states' moves.
... In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court not only upheld the disclosure requirements in federal campaign finance law, but also made clear that Congress and states could go further—that they could require disclosure even of expenditures that went beyond the scope of election spending that could constitutionally be limited. “Transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages,” declared the majority opinion. Decisions in Doe v. Reed, which involved anonymity of signatures on petitions, and the 2010 SpeechNow case, the DC Circuit case which most directly gave rise to SuperPACs, reaffirmed the value of disclosure as an alternative to regulation. In a law review article, Ciara Torres-Spelicy of Stetson Law School describes these cases as marking a “dramatic 180 degree turn...on the issue of the constitutionality of disclosure.” Justice Antonin Scalia has been positively florid about the democratic virtues of disclosure, writing in a concurring opinion in Doe v. Reed that “requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.”
Campaign reformers saw in this aspect of Citizens United and the subsequent cases a small silver lining. If nothing else, there was at least consensus on disclosure. ...New Republic
Even so, there's less and less to respect these days among our broken "branches." As for the Court? Sheesh, I didn't think they were even this "popular"...
Just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing and three-quarters say the justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News.
Those findings are a fresh indication that the court’s standing with the public has slipped significantly in the past quarter-century, according to surveys conducted by several polling organizations. Approval was as high as 66 percent in the late 1980s, and by 2000 approached 50 percent.
The decline in the court’s standing may stem in part from Americans’ growing distrust in recent years of major institutions in general and the government in particular. But it also could reflect a sense that the court is more political, after the ideologically divided 5-to-4 decisions in Bush v. Gore, which determined the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United, the 2010 decision allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions. ...NYT