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Ear to the Ground

Stevens Sees Eventual Collapse of Citizens United Ruling

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Posted on Jun 4, 2012
Talk Radio News Service

John Paul Stevens with Justice Elena Kagan, who replaced him on the Supreme Court.

Will Citizens United stand the test of time? John Paul Stevens, the former Supreme Court justice who led the dissent in the court’s highly controversial decision that eased restrictions on corporate donations in political campaigns, thinks the answer is “no.” (Much to the chagrin of Mitt Romney, who buys into the fantasy that corporations are in fact human.)

In a speech at the University of Arkansas last week, Stevens said the high court is already having second thoughts about the 2010 ruling, and he explained why he believes the decision will ultimately collapse. —TEB

Talking Points Memo:

Stevens noted that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion did not explicitly address the possibility that the decision could open up the floodgates for foreign entities to bankroll U.S. elections. It’s a notion that President Obama warned of in his 2010 State of the Union, prompting Justice Samuel Alito to famously shake his head and mouth “not true.”

When the justices carve out that exception, argued Stevens, they will “create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion.”

“... The Court must then explain its abandonment of, or at least qualify its reliance upon, proposition that the identity of the speaker is an impermissible basis for regulating campaign speech,” Stevens said Wednesday night, according to prepared remarks. “It will be necessary to explain why the First Amendment provides greater protection to the campaign speech of some non-voters than to that of other non-voters.”

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