U.S. Supremes gives biz thumbs up to sling mudby Dara Kam | January 21st, 2010
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that corporations and unions can spend as much as they want on “electioneering communications,” the negative ads targeting candidates.
The ruling could have a sweeping effect on Florida campaigns, especially in battleground races like the U.S. Senate GOP primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio.
The suit was filed by a group behind Hillary Clinton-bashing ads in her U.S. Senate campaign.
The court decided in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission that banning corporations and unions from paying for the ads equates to a chilling effect on free speech.
“There is no basis for the proposition that, in the political speech context, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers. Both history and logic lead to this conclusion,” the ruling reads. “Political speech is so ingrained in this country’s culture that speakers find ways around campaign finance laws. Rapid changes in technology—and the creative dynamic inherent in the concept of free expression—counsel against upholding a law that restricts political speech in certain media or by certain speakers.”
Common Cause said the ruling “creates political crisis” by paving the way for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of cash on elections.
“The Roberts court today made a bad situation worse,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar said in a press release. “This decision allows Wall Street to tap its vast corporate profits to drown out the voice of the public in our democracy. “The path from here is clear: Congress must free itself from Wall Street’s grip so Main Street can finally get a fair shake.We need to change the way America pays for elections. Passing the Fair Elections Now Act would give us the best Congress money can’t buy.”