Citizens United Represents a Shift from Previous Jurisprudence, Not a Continuation

Reuters: “In 2002, federal officeholders were banned from soliciting, and donors were banned from giving large contributions to, the national parties because they created widespread opportunities for corruption — for the buying and selling of government influence and decisions.

“Former federal officeholders provided affidavits in the case of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission supporting these restrictions on large party contributions, known as soft money. The Supreme Court in 2003 upheld the restrictions in McConnell.

“Here’s an example of the affidavits:

“Former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson stated:

“I have seen firsthand how the current campaign-financing system prostitutes ideas and ideals, demeans democracy and debases debates. … Donations from the tobacco industry to Republicans scuttled tobacco legislation, just as contributions from the trial lawyers to Democrats stopped tort reform. … Big labor and big business use large soft-money donations to corrupt the system to the detriment of the little guy.

“The McConnell decision was consistent with almost 40 years of Supreme Court precedent — where the court generally upheld the constitutionality of campaign-finance laws.

“This changed, however, with the appointments to the Supreme Court of Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005 and Justice Samuel Alito in 2006. These appointments created a 5-to-4 ideological majority that has consistently supported plaintiffs hostile to campaign-finance laws.”

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