Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is There a Silver Lining to Citizens United?

Thomas B. Edsall, NYT
OCT. 28, 2015

The five-member conservative majority of the Supreme Court did Democrats and reformers a favor when it released its decision in Citizens United in 2010.

The ruling and its progeny, much reviled by the left, effectively banned limits on political contributions and opened the door to direct corporate financing of campaigns. In doing so, Citizens United inadvertently rescued progressive crusaders from their futile, century-long struggle to control the flow of money into politics.

In the absence of caps on contribution amounts — and with loosened restrictions on sources of political cash — reformers have been forced to look toward innovative legislation at the city and state level. Those local experiments have led to the development of alternative strategies for financing federal elections that focus on large, publicly funded incentives for the solicitation of small donors.

Over time, reformers have often failed to anticipate the consequences of their proposals. For example, the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the post-Watergate 1974 amendments institutionalized and legally sanctioned political action committees, still the primary vehicle used by special interests to influence candidates today.

(More here.)


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