Tuesday, November 02, 2010

It is the opinion of the Court, Part Two

Surprisingly, not all the news coming out of the Supreme Court is bad. The justices have
left in place a lower court's decision requiring groups to register as political action committees even if they spend money in federal elections independent of the candidates or political parties.

It was the second time since the court's controversial 5 to 4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the justices have passed on a challenge that would again bring the issue of campaign finance to the court.
Earlier, it refused to hear a GOPper challenge to the so-called "soft money" restrictions on contributions to political parties contained in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, a challenge that had failed in lower courts. This time, it declined to consider a challenge from a cash-├╝ber-alles outfit called SpeechNow.org over an adverse decision of the DC Court of Appeals.

That court found the group could, in accordance with Citizens United, accept unlimited donations to fund its ad campaigns. However, the court also said that the group
must comply with the disclosure requirements that come with being registered as a PAC.
SecretCashNow.org didn't like that, of course, and so it appealed. And got nowhere, so it still has at least those restrictions on it.

Actually, in one sense it might have been better if the appeal had been accepted, because even in Citizens United, eight of the nine members of the Court supported the idea of disclosure requirements, so some sort requirements along those lines might have been set down rather than still being open to challenge in other districts. Still, I'll take what I can get, especially since
[m]ore than 50 similar groups [to FatCatsFunnelingBucksNow.org] are now operating as a result of decisions by the courts and the FEC, and outside organizations are spending an unprecedented amount of money in the midterm elections.
Footnote: If you want my view on what's wrong with Citizens United and why I'm not surprised by the burgeoning of money in politics, you might look back on my critique of Glenn Greenwald's defense of the decision.

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