Liberals do not understand that the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision is actually a good for free speech and the First Amendment, visiting liberals at the Cato Institute said.
Citizens United allowed a conservative group to distribute an anti-Hillary Clinton film. NYU law professor Richard Pildes, a panel member at the Center for Responsive Politics’ recent half-day conference at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. , said that “one of the great myths about Citizens United…is that Citizens United is responsible for the tremendous growth in outside spending since 2010.”
“You see many academics and journalists writing stories…comparing outside spending to five years ago to today…there is tremendous growth if you turn the clock.” Pildes did not believe those stories because “you have to understand the context where the numbers are generated.” In his findings, “There’s been a constant growth in outside spending since the McCain-Feingold Law and that’s the main driver of outside spending” not Citizens United.
The McCain-Feingold Law that Plides referred to limited campaign contributions, a policy many liberals see as the cure for any ills that afflict electoral politics. It was co-sponsored by the 2008 Republican presidential name, signed into law by President George W. Bush and later ruled unconstitutional, by federal courts.
“The Democratic Party is afraid of taking charge of [campaign finance reform],” Plides said, and their “lawyers are happy that the Republican Party took charge on that issue.”
- Former ACLU executive director Ira Glasser said, “The [New York] Times coverage…of Citizens United and its consequences have been willfully and intellectually dishonest” and yet, “they do it anyway and they defend it because it is in the service of a political agenda.” The only way the New York Times and other newspapers can get away with it, Glasser noted, was that they operate as the press. He called that portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which exempted media corporations and allowed the New York Times to hide behind it, “an intellectually dishonest deception.”
- Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, said, “Rich people didn’t really need Citizens United; ordinary people do.” The rich and wealthy, or in her words, “the plutocrats,” “can always buy something that can give them a media exemption.” The ones affected by the law overturned by Citizens United were the grassroots advocacy groups and their volunteers and workers.
- ACLU legislative counsel Gabe Rottman said, “You’re opening the door to very poor outcomes for free speech and open and robust policy debate.” That debate, he said, “is at the heart of the decision of Citizens United.”