Reaction to Supreme Court decision to ease campaign spending rules for corporations, unions

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reaction: Supreme Court’s campaign finance ruling

Reaction to the Supreme Court decision Thursday that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress.

“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. … We are going to talk with bipartisan congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision.” — President Barack Obama.

“The text and purpose of the First Amendment point in the same direction: Congress may not prohibit political speech, even if the speaker is a corporation or union.” — Chief Justice John Roberts

“The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.” — Justice John Paul Stevens, in the dissent.

“Speech about our government and candidates for elective office lies at the heart of the First Amendment, and the court’s decision vindicates the right of individuals to engage in core political speech by banding together to make their voices heard.” — Theodore Olson, who argued the case for Citizens United.

“Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns.” — Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

“I am disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court and the lifting of the limits on corporate and union contributions.” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“There is clear reason for ordinary citizens to be concerned that this divisive ruling will, in reality, allow powerful corporations to drown out the voices of everyday Americans in future campaigns. This ruling is no doubt yet another victory for Wall Street at the expense of Main Street America.” — Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“With today’s monumental decision, the Supreme Court took an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups by ruling that the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day.” — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“We will open the floodgate, if left unchecked and unchallenged, to more and more special interest money, big corporation money. … This takes us in the exact opposite direction from where America wants to go.” — Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

“I think the Supreme Court decisions today are a big win for the First Amendment and a step in the right direction.” — House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.

“The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections. If that happens, democracy in America is over. We cannot put the law up for sale and award government to the highest bidder.” — Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.

“Today’s ruling protects the First Amendment rights of organizations across the political spectrum, and is a positive for the political process and free enterprise.” — Robin Conrad of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Chamber Litigation Center.

“This decision allows Wall Street to tap its vast corporate profits to drown out the voice of the public in our democracy.” — Bob Edgar, president of government watchdog group Common Cause.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling frees American business from the yoke of second-class citizenship. … The reason American business is active in politics in the first place is to influence public policies that impact the prosperity of its employees and shareholders.” — Gregory Casey, president and CEO of the Business and Industry Political Action Committee.

“The decision will unleash unprecedented amounts of corporate “influence-seeking” money on our elections and create unprecedented opportunities for corporate ‘influence-buying’ corruption.” — Fred Wertheimer, president of watchdog group Democracy 21.

“If you are a ‘corporate person’ (aka a CEO or corporate official), you are now free to hit the corporate ATM and spend whatever of your shareholders’ money it takes to elect the candidates of your choice.” — Anna Burger, chair of the Change to Win labor federation

“Today’s decision so imperils our democratic well-being, and so severely distorts the rightful purpose of the First Amendment, that a constitutional corrective is demanded.” — Robert Weissman, president of consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

“It is clear that the Court’s opinion will allow a tidal wave of money to potentially cripple an already swamped and warped political system.” — Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the open-government group the Sunlight Foundation.

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