Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Corporate Contributions to Political Candidates

In a decision citing last year’s Citizens United v. F.E.C., U.S. District Judge James Cacheris has declared the federal law banning corporations from contributing directly to political candidates to be unconstitutional. From the ruling in U.S. v. Danielczyk:

For better or worse, Citizens United held that there is no distinction between an individual and a corporation with respect to political speech. Thus, if an individual can make direct contributions within FECA’s [the Federal Election Campaign Act] limits, a corporation cannot be banned from doing the same thing.

Law professor Rick Hasen argues that the ruling is likely to be overturned, since the Supreme Court recently upheld a ban on corporate contributions in F.E.C. v. Beaumont (2003). Either way, as the Harlan Institute’s Josh Blackman observes, the decision "is going to absolutely infuriate opponents of Citizens United."

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  • Hugh Akston||

    ZOMGKORPORATESTATERETHUGLICANSWARPIGBLOOD4OILKORPORATEPERSONHOODKOCHTAPUS!!!!!!!1111ONE!!!!

  • ||

    Pretty much what I've seen so far. For example:

    have not been able to understand why corporations can give money. They are an articifal construct of the law. They are not alive. They are not citizens. They are not human beings. So how can they have "politcal speech" rights? THe courts are very wrong! wrong! wrong! We may need a constitutionalk amendment to correct this. Fat chance with corpration's leaderships giveing money to deeat such a movement. Paulus

  • ||

    For my leftoid friends: unions, NAACP, ACLU, the Democratic Party, MoveOn.org, The New York Times, CNN, etc.

    Think before you emote.

  • ||

    For my leftoid friends...........Think before you emote

    But then they wouldn't be Leftoid anymore, now would they?

  • No, don't say that.....||

    Act now, think later. War now, blame someone else later. Smash now, wonder why later. Smear now, feign innocence later.

  • Realist||

    You're telling socialist shit for brains to think??? Good one. LOL

  • anon||

    Your argument is that corporations shouldn't be allowed to vote, which they aren't. To say that a corporation doesn't have a right to free speech would put limits on free speech, which our constitution explicitly prohibits.

    Whether you like it or not, money is a form of exercising free speech.

  • ||

    Maybe they should be. In fact, maybe they should be allowed to run for office. I'm going to vote for SpaceX for president.

  • ||

    Who will be SpaceX's running mate though?

    A SpaceX/4Loko ticket maybe?

  • ||

    To get the younger vote, sure. Coke is another possibility, because it could swing some Southern states.

  • ||

    No way in hell I'm voting for any Cola product. "Hmmmm, brown-flavored sugar water!" Wtf people.

  • ||

    You clearly haven't had Sugar Coke.

  • Almanian||

    That is EXACTLY what I said, Hugh. Thanks.

  • Joe R.||

    So do you suppose those dumb fucks will realize that the way to keep this under control is just to limit government power so that it doesn't have any favors to grant?

    I find it hard to fucking believe that the liberals who lived through the Bush years still can't figure out the problems with government power.

  • The problem is....||

    ...that they HAVE figured it out and mean to cash in big time.

  • Stephen Colbert||

    Oh baby, get ready for some smug, uninformed jokes when I get back next week.

  • JoJo Zeke||

    Shyeah. That should be real different.

  • ||

    the decision "is going to absolutely infuriate opponents of Citizens United."

    Considering how apeshit the left went over Citizens United, this should cause head explosions at least.

    Should be fun, actually.

  • Cyto||

    This is teh internets. Heads "asplode" on teh internets.

  • Bee Tagger||

    This is going to make MSNBC totally unwatchable....

  • Hugh Akston||

    Moreso.

    See also: The Daily Show.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    I usually turn on MSNBC when I run the treadmill at my gym. Not surprisingly, the only way I can watch it is after a gigantic endorphin boost.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    My favorite part of the day is watching Chris Matthews explain why only the most photogenic Republican can win an election.

  • ||

    He does like his leg tingles.

  • CE||

    They must have been worried that Ron Paul is only trailing Mitt Romney by 6 percentage points in the latest CNN poll..... (21% to 15%, with Rudy and Sarah excluded)

  • X||

    the left just wants the corporation to pay taxes, not have a voice or representation.

  • Olbermann||

    Well, what other purpose do corporations serve?

  • ||

    Why do some people have such a hard time getting it through their heads that owners, managers and employees are people too?

    I've been all three of those things, and, I swear, I was a person the whole damn time.

    I knew I had rights! I just knew it somehow--even before the courts weighed in.

  • A liberal||

    And as a person, you should be free to contribute as much money as you like to anyone you want.

    But the CEO of a publicly traded corporation isn't donating HIS money...he's donating shareholder money, and usually without a full shareholder vote beforehand. So that money is claiming to speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people who may not agree with the candidate it's going to.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Unlike unions, of course, where every decision is subject to strict consensus of all dues-paying members.

  • ||

    As Members, their consensus is assumed. For their own good.

  • JD||

    Those shareholders are free to demand he stop spending their money in that way, replace him as CEO, or pull their money from the company.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    JD,

    Stop being so reasonable!

  • Almanian||

    Drink!

    Just for the hell of it.

  • ||

    "Those shareholders are free to demand he stop spending their money in that way, replace him as CEO, or pull their money from the company."

    If only our government were as democratic as publicly traded corporations are!

    As a corporate stock holder, I can even choose not to participate at all if I don't want to--I can sell my stock and wash my hands of the whole damn thing.

    ...if I want to.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    How come the argument that's used is that "Corporations crowd out the voices of the common man!"?

  • Almanian||

    WHAT??!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!! I WORK FOR GIGANTIC MEGACORP™, AND THE COMPANY IS TALKING SO LOUD WITH ITS BLOOD MONEY THAT I CAN'T HEAR ANYTHING!!

    WHAT??!! YEAH, THEY PAY OK!! I GOTTA GET BACK TO WORK BEFORE THE BOSS COMES AROUND AND BEATS ME AGAIN!!! HAVE A GOOD HOLIDAY!!!!

  • Colonel_Angus||

    The shareholders agreed to grant the power to make certain decisions to the company's officers. If they don't want the company contributing money, they can vote to stop it. They can also form a contract that says the company can not do these things.

    Also, shut the fuck up, minge.

  • silent v||

    If the CEO of a publicly traded corporation is giving money to politicians, it isn't because she is trying to advance her personal beliefs, it is because the return on money given to Washington is better than the return on investing that money anywhere else (see Goldman Sachs et al).

    The solution isn't to ban corporate donations, the solution is to get the government out of the economy so that enriching politicians is no longer the most lucrative investment.

  • cynical||

    "So that money is claiming to speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people who may not agree with the candidate it's going to."

    Corporate advertising is claiming to speak on behalf on hundreds of thousands of people who may not agree with the sentiment or presentation of the ad campaign. Tough shit. Sell your stock or pressure the board to replace the CEO if you don't like it.

    The CEO's job is not to represent the general interest of his shareholders, it's to represent them in their limited capacity as stakeholders in the corporation and act in good faith to fulfill the objectives of the corporate charter. So long as he's supporting a candidate that will advance his corporation's objectives, he is doing right by the shareholders.

  • tarran||

    My understanding is that Sitizen United said no such thing; that the Supreme Court claimed that Congress could not allow some corporations (Tribune Co) to engage in political speech while prohibiting other ones (Citizens United) from doing the very same thing.

    The Supreme Court was stating that if the U.S. government permits a corporation to publish the New York Times, it cannot forbid another corporations from selling a movie, or opening a newspaper. The alternative, forbid corporations from publishing newspapers or television programs is obviously absurd.

  • ||

    Sithizens United. The left would like to borrow that from you, I'm sure (I added the 'H' for clarification).

  • ||

    Darth Urderer. that is all.

  • Cyto||

    Relocate the 'H' and you make a different statement.

  • ||

    Shitizens love Shitty Chicken!

    or

    *new Leahy quote about Shitizenship*

  • oncogenesis||

    I think "sitizens" would suit most liberals just fine -- as in "sit down and shut up, citizen".

  • Coeus||

    That was my take as well. I think we might actually be witnessing a case of "repeat it till it's true" backfiring. The Judge heard the propaganda so much he believes it.

    I wonder if other propaganda will start to become reality as well. We might very well see a rash of people pushing little old ladies in wheelchairs over a cliff.

  • Warty||

    HUFFPOST SUPER USER
    AntonBursch
    79 Fans
    Follow
    3 minutes ago (4:17 PM)
    i think it may be time for me to move to a 1st world country.

    Please. No.

  • Almanian||

    Thanks for taking one for the team. Your brain must hurt after going to....that site...

    *shudder*

  • ||

    My God Warty, how do you go in there? Reading the comments to the huffington post is going to a melting nuclear power plant. The body can only take so many rads in a lifetime. And the brain can only take so much stupid.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Unbeknownst to many, Warty is a ghoul. Radiation not only doesn't harm him, it actually regenerates him.

  • Joedoe||

    Warty sounds more like the name of a super mutant.

  • Warty||

    Soon I may work up the courage to comment. I'll make sure to post the hilarious results if that happens.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Also, lunchstealer is a regular commenter there, with 30+ fans. I don't know whether to respect him or fear him.

  • ||

    Fear him.

  • ||

    But only at or around lunchtime.

  • Just an Engineer||

    I always chuckle when someone uses the phrase, first world, without knowing what it actually means. He didn't make the point he thought he was.

  • Jerry||

    I guess this means also the end to federal campaign contribution limits? Fine with me.

  • Almanian||

    It's the end
    of the world
    as we know it
    Yes
    It's the end
    of the world
    as we know it
    Yes
    It's the end
    of the world
    as we know it

    And I feel fine

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    REM...why do the Lefties have the monopoly on good music?

  • ||

    The Ramones were not lefties. Lennon oddly enough was not nearly as lefty as the left liked to believe he was. Ted Nugent but he sucked. Interesting guy, good musician, terrible music. Frank Zappa wasn't a lefty. He was more of an anarcho capitalist. Elvis was not a lefty. But yeah, the list is short and teneus.

  • Keith||

    Because you need to lack common sense to devote yourself to a career path with such a low chance of success.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Is the guy who's subbing-in for Dylan Ratigan white or black or Fine Young Cannibal?

  • ||

    Citizen's United only compels this result if campaign contributions = speech.

    I happen to think corporations have no business giving money to political campaigns, charities, or anything not related to their business, which is making money for shareholders.

    Believe it or not, it used to be illegal for corporations to make donations of any kind without shareholder approval.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    So, you're okay with contributions with shareholder approval?

  • ||

    So, you're okay with contributions with shareholder approval?

    Sure. Its their money.

    Back in the Olden Dayes, making contributions was ultra vires under the corporation's charter. The corporation was formed to engage in business. Excess cash was to be used for the business, or paid out as dividends. Any other use of excess cash was beyond the corporation's authority.

  • ||

    Limited government--really limited government--is so obviously the solution that I have to think most people don't know the question.

  • Jerry||

    So what if I start a corporation with $100k in capital, with the sole purpose of hiring some people who will make a campaign contribution for me?

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Yeah, didn't the board members hire these people with some idea of how they'd manage contributions?

  • ||

    Yeah, but when you consider the kind of damage your competitors can do to you by buying the right Congress Critter, it is hard to see how any responsible board could not vote to make political contribution. It is the congress creatures' world afterall.

  • T||

    I believe it was Jon Rauch in Government's End who pointed out that lobbying is one of the few games you can lose if you don't play. If I am CEO of MegaloCorp, it sure as hell is in the interest of the business making sure Congress doesn't pass a law to fuck MegaloCorp over or give a competitive advantage to my competitiors. And that means lobbying, even if it's only defensive.

  • JD||

    Believe it or not, it used to be illegal for corporations to make donations of any kind without shareholder approval.

    The problem is that government has become so entwined in the economy that it is impossible to function without greasing the right palms.

  • ||

    It can't be restated enough. The problem isn't that companies can ask the government for favors. The problem is that government has favors to give.

  • #||

    ^this

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Incentives, dontchya know?

  • Hugh Akston||

    This

  • ||

    I'm in.

  • ||

    But if they just aren't tempted by all that corporate money Congress members and politicians will do the right thing. And only the ones committed to the greater good will win. right?

  • cynical||

    It isn't just that, it's that it also has disfavors to give. Once the government can (ab)use legal loopholes or straight up discretion to treat different organizations unequally for political reasons, any company of sufficient size has to start paying protection money.

  • Paul||

    There are those who disagree with this.

  • ||

    Vanneman can disagree all he wants, but the point is easily demonstrated. No one is lobbying you or me or anyone on this board for favors. Why not? Because we have none to give.

  • Somalian Road Corporation||

    Citizen's United is a Hugo Chávez-type litmus test. It separates those on the left who have some conceptual grasp of moral principle (however else I might strongly disagree with them) from those who are merely screaming fanatically for their team to win.

    See also: http://www.rall.com/rallblog/2.....-obamabots and any recent Glen Greenwald column.

  • Mr. Mark||

    I can't believe somebody has done something actually agree with.

  • Paul||

    For better or worse, Citizens United held that there is no distinction between an individual and a corporation

    I see what the Judge did there...

  • pmains||

    How astute of him. Apparently, corporations can get married, register to vote, adopt children, enroll in school, receive Medicare benefits, register for selective service, hold office ...

  • Hugh Akston||

    Corporations over 35 are eligible to hold the office of POTUS.

    GE 2012!

  • cynical||

    4 years of GE rule is enough, thanks.

  • ||

    GE. My hedge against liberty.

  • ||

    lol, thats our bought and paid for givernment at its finest lol.

    www.real-privacy.int.tc

  • Obama the jaunty candidate||

    HaHaHa.

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