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Citizens United — Not as Bad As You Think

Gerard Magliocca

Gerard N. Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Professor Magliocca is the author of three books and over twenty articles on constitutional law and intellectual property. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford, his law degree from Yale, and joined the faculty after two years as an attorney at Covington and Burling and one year as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Professor Magliocca has received the Best New Professor Award and the Black Cane (Most Outstanding Professor) from the student body, and in 2008 held the Fulbright-Dow Distinguished Research Chair of the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands. He was elected to the American Law Institute (ALI) in 2013.

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5 Responses

  1. PrometheeFeu says:

    Well, if you listen to Keith Olbermann, everyone is either a moronic, sexist, racist, nazi, child molester or agrees with him. That’ why I watch him as much as I watch Glenn Beck. Come to think of it, the only place I’ve ever seen Glenn Beck taken vaguely seriously was on Olbermann’s show, but I digress. (Or whatever it’s called when you go off topic before starting to talk about your point.)
    While preoccupied by the effects of this ruling, I think it is unlikely to be the apocalypse some people see coming. We must never forget that behind corporations sit individuals who have plans themselves. And if a corporation starts throwing its shareholder’s money at something its shareholders disapprove of, the shareholders are likely to take strong action against the board and management. And let’s face it: If somebody with a lot of money (ie an influential shareholder) wanted to throw money at an issue or election, they can always cash out and do their own publicity campaign. So sure, this maybe will make it easier for some people to throw money at a federal campaign, but I expect it to be a marginal effect.
    And that is on top of your two points.

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    “…but in most cases it’s a wash”: Really? What corporations want is almost always only in the private interest of their management and shareholders, rather than in the public interest. (I insert the ‘almost’ purely as an insurance policy against some stray counterexample.) Indeed, there are many in the legal academic profession who have contended that this is entirely appropriate. It’s hardly reassuring that Google and Microsoft may try to influence some issue in opposite directions, in their battle to dominate our online activities and collect information about us; similarly for, say, the natural gas vs. coal industries. Not that these attempts would have ground to a halt had Citizens United been decided on narrower grounds or with a different outcome, but the danger now is that the decision will encourage them. If we’re to rely on disagreements among corporations for our politics, then the majority’s reliance on “corporate democracy,” though narrow in the context of the opinion, may soon take on a much more ominous resonance.

  3. “Decades of campaign finance regulation accomplished very little.”

    Not so! They contributed substantially to driving up the reelection rate for incumbents, while all but destroying every attempt by third parties to challenge the major parties. As was intended.

    As a member of the Libertarian party I watched as, every time we found a way to get enough money to finance a real campaign, the government outlawed it by the next election. Anybody who thinks this sort of thing was an accident is loony, it’s the POINT of campaign ‘reform’ from the perspective of the people writing the laws.

    Any more campaign ‘reform’ and we might as well abolish terms, and make House and Senate seats for life.

  4. John Quest says:

    I think the biggest problem with the case is giving corporations the full measure of rights under the Constitution as if they were human beings. Should they be given the right to vote as well? Isn’t it discriminatory to deny them those rights? How about the corporate right to bear arms?

  5. mahtso says:

    Mr. Quest

    Your rhetorical questions would be more meaningful to me if all corporations were being treated equally. Instead under the “old” law, the NY Times, Fox News Corp., GE, etc. were treated one way and most others (i.e., those that do not own media outlets) were treated another way.

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