In Response To Citizens United, Courts Begin Reshaping Campaign Funding Law

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The Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision cleared the way for unlimited corporate donations to help elect or defeat political candidates.

Of course, once the Supreme Court makes such a decision, it’s up to the lower courts to implement it and, as Jess Bravin reported for The Wall Street Journal, that ball is now rolling.

A recent D.C. Court of Appeals case involved a Washington-based group that wanted to spend money on ads opposing those who oppose campaign finance regulations. The Court held that independent political committees are free to raise money as they see fit, though, following the Supreme Court ruling as applied to corporations, said that the committees must disclose the results of their fundraising to the Federal Election Committee.

While Citizens did strike down some of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, it kept some of it intact. For example, the fundraising must still be reported to the FEC. The Court did not address other aspects of the law, including limits on “soft money” contributions by political parties to directly support political candidates.

In another case, a D.C. district court upheld those limits, but the Republican National Committee said it would appeal; it asserted that logic of the Citizens holding — which held, basically, that corporations have a right to political free speech — means the soft money restrictions should no longer exist.

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