Bill Moyers & Co: “The Long Path to Reversing Citizens United”

In a new article posted to Bill Moyers & Co., our work pursuing legal strategies to push back against super PACs and SpeechNow are highlighted as part of a “long path to reversing Citizens United.” Of our multi-pronged strategy, John Light writes:

Reform advocates have already begun to tee up challenges that could give a Supreme Court with a new majority an opportunity to rethink rulings like Citizens United and a lower-court ruling, SpeechNow v. FEC, which created super PACs. The battle is being waged on two fronts.

The first involves a frontal assault on some of the most prominent super PACs in this year’s election. Advocacy groups have sued the Federal Elections Commission for failure to enforce election law.

Lawyers behind the effort, including former advisers to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, argue that super PACs should not be legal, and that the lower court that effectively greenlit them with the SpeechNow ruling made a mistake. Ultimately that case could wend its way to the Supreme Court.

The second front is opening at the grass roots. The idea is that a city or state can create a law cracking down on some of the big-money election tactics that have become commonplace, expecting that that law will then be challenged. St. Petersburg, Florida is attempting to do just that.

So what happens if our St. Petersburg ordinance gets passed?

Once challenged, the fight will advance through the court system and, advocates hope, ultimately reach the Supreme Court. At that point, the court will have the opportunity to reconsider the legal framework that allows for super PACs.

It’s a long row to hoe — but reformers see these legal strategies as more promising than the long-shot bids to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. If a President Hillary Clinton can manage to overcome the already-promised Senate opposition to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, the Pandora’s box opened by Citizens United and similar decisions might eventually be closed.

We’ll keep you posted. For the full story, click here.

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