Neither Corruption Nor The Appearance Of Corruption (Norman Costa)
“We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” --US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in "Citizens United.
Super-Soft Money: How Justice Kennedy paved the way for “SuperPACS” and the return of soft money.
By Richard L. Hasen
Soft money is coming back to national politics, and in a big way. And we can blame it all on a single sentence in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in 2010’s controversial Citizens United decision—a sentence that was unnecessary to resolve the case.
In this election cycle, “superPACs” will likely replace political parties as a conduit for large, often secret contributions, allowing an end run around the $2,500 individual contribution limit and the bar on corporate and labor contributions to federal candidates.* To understand how we got into this predicament, we need to go back briefly to the 1970s. In the wake of Watergate and other money-in-politics scandals, Congress imposed tough new campaign finance restrictions. Not only did the law limit contributions to federal candidates to $1,000 per person (an amount it eventually raised to $2,000 and indexed to inflation), it also limited independent spending—that is, no one person or group could spend more than that amount—to $1,000. In a Solomonic 1976 decision, the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo split the baby, upholding the contribution limits but striking down the independent spending limit as a violation of the First Amendment protections of free speech and association.
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