Wednesday, April 28, 2010

They never stop trying

To take over the world, do they?
Citizens United, Take Two

The Supreme Court case that could help corporations keep their massive election spending secret.

— By Stephanie Mencimer

This week, congressional Democrats are crafting legislation to undo the Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United, which allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections. At the same time, the legal genius behind that case will be asking the court to take a whack at another long-standing pillar of campaign finance transparency: state disclosure laws. Call it Citizens United, take two.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Doe v. Reed, a case from Washington state that looks at whether the public disclosure of referendum petitions violates signers' First Amendment rights to privacy, free association, and free speech. While important on its own, Reed is also a warmup for cases coming down the pipeline in California and Maine over whether disclosing the names of campaign donors violates free speech rights by exposing contributors to harassment and other unpleasantness. Together, these cases form a backdoor assault on one of the most accepted tenets of clean elections: that the public should be able to see where the money is coming from.

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