And the Citizens United slippery slope continues…
A judge has ruled that the campaign-finance law banning corporations from making contributions to federal candidates is unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision last year in his analysis.
In a ruling issued late Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Cacheris tossed out part of an indictment against two men accused of illegally reimbursing donors to Hillary Clinton’s Senate and presidential campaigns.
Cacheris says that under the Citizens United decision, corporations enjoy the same rights as individuals to contribute to campaigns.
The ruling from the federal judge in Virginia is the first of its kind. The Citizens United case had applied only to corporate spending on campaigning by independent groups, like ads run by third parties to favor one side, not to direct contributions to the candidates themselves.
"(F)or better or worse, Citizens United held that there is no distinction between an individual and a corporation with respect to political speech," Cacheris wrote in his 52-page opinion. "Thus, if an individual can make direct contributions within (the law’s) limits, a corporation cannot be banned from doing the same thing."
Judge Cacheris – one of President Reagan’s earliest judicial nominees – acknowledged that another court addressing the issue has ruled that Citizens United does not invalidate a ban on corporate campaign contributions.
If the ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates were to be struck down by the Supreme Court, it would deal the biggest blow yet to federal clean elections laws that have been in place for over a century.
The first election after Citizens United turned into a corporate spending free-for-all. But it was just the beginning of what, without correction, may be a new regressive era of money in politics.