White House presses critique of high court in campaign finance case

[JURIST] The Obama administration continued to criticize the Supreme Court [official website] Monday for its recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [JURIST report], which eased restrictions on political campaign spending by corporations and labor unions. In an appeal [WH blog; fact sheet, PDF] for political campaign spending legislative reform, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform Norm Eisen said "the President was right to criticize the Supreme Court's recent decision," citing to reports [WSJ report] of foreign corporations preparing to lobby against proposed legislation that would make political campaign spending more difficult for foreign-owned companies. The proposal that Obama called for in his State of the Union Address [transcript; JURIST report] last week would set low limits on dollar contributions to federal candidates, enhance disclosure rules that apply to lobbyists and earmark requests, and close the loopholes opened by Citizens United pertaining to corporate political campaign spending.

In its ruling last month, the court cited First Amendment concerns in overturning Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) [text, PDF], which prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an "electioneering communication" or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. The court, in a 5-4 decision [opinion, PDF], said that, "[t]he Government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether." The White House immediately responded [press release] by pledging to work with Congress "to develop a forceful response."

 

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