January 21st, 2010
10:10 AM ET
8 years ago

Supreme Court eases ban on business, labor political spending

Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Supreme Court has eased long-standing restrictions on "independent spending" by corporations and unions in political campaigns.

Thursday's landmark ruling, which overhauls decades of federal restrictions, has the potential to lead to a dramatic increase in campaign spending.

A close 5-4 conservative majority on Thursday crafted a narrow overhaul of federal campaign spending that could have an immediate impact on next year's congressional midterm elections.

"Our nation's speech dynamic is changing, and informative voices should not have to circumvent onerous restrictions to exercise their First Amendment rights," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.

The conservative-led opinion radically alters the election calculus, offering greater spending flexibility for a broader range of for-profit and non-profit groups seeking a voice in the crowded national political debate.

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "In a democratic society, the long-standing consensus on the need to limit corporate campaign spending should outweigh the wooden applications of judge-made rules."

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Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Chuck Anaheim,Ca

    There may as well be no more elections! The corporitists control all now. God help the USA...PLEASE!

    January 21, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |

    Spending money to get someone elected is NOT speech or expression. It's actually a form of bribery. Imagine that – our constitution protects bribery. What a great country.....

    January 21, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Donna

    Oh great....to make campaigns even more of a circus! There is so much more these companies can do with their money!

    January 21, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Good. The First Amendment is extremely clear on this:

    "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech...."

    Nothing about "except for corporations, unions, or nonprofits."

    January 21, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. C Spurgeon

    Whatever..they should tax it so some of the big guys spending comes back to country..

    January 21, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. NotFooledTX

    Don't those folks already have a load of influence on our elections and legislators? It kind of stacks the deck against the American citizenry.

    January 21, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Great, as if the insurance companies weren't spending enough money on astroturf movements to defeat healthcare.

    January 21, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. Scott, Tucson

    For the life of me I can't see why any large corporations or the rich would want to donate even a dime to Democrats when the Dem's are trying to rip them off at every turn. It's like feeding the hand that wants to bite you.

    January 21, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Bob in Fla

    Now there's a shock. Five Conservative members of SC favor Large Corp and Lobbyists rights to direct the Policies of the American Govt.

    January 21, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. j

    On the face of it, this sounds like a bad decision.

    January 21, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  11. La Chatte

    Oh, goody! More money that could go toward so many important causes wasted on bozo politics and corporate greed mongering. Whoopee!

    January 21, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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