Katrina vanden Heuvel

The Nation

June 12, 2012

Writing for the majority in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

Since then, Super-PACs and corporations have spent record amounts of money in elections nationwide. Corporate spending soared during the 2010 election cycle to $294 million, 427 percent over the previous midterm elections in 2006. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer both suggested that given these “huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance,” Kennedy’s assertion doesn’t hold and the court should reconsider its ruling.

It will have the opportunity to do just that on Thursday when it considers the Montana Supreme Court’s decision in December to uphold the state’s century-old ban on corporate political expenditures in state elections. In February the US Supreme Court informed the Montana that it could no longer enforce that law until further notice, and now it must decide whether to hear the state’s case. This is perhaps the most serious challenge to date to the Citizens United decision.

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