States push back on Citizens United ruling


With the upcoming anniversary of the Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed corporations to make unlimited campaign contributions, California Assembly member Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) is pushing a bill to ensure that corporate entities making political donations are required to at least disclose those contributions.

The California Disclose Act, AB 1148, specifically addresses accountability in election campaign ads, forcing corporate sponsors to step out from behind cryptic political action committee (PAC) names when they fund political advertisements.

"Currently the top two donors must be disclosed on political ads, usually behind meaningless campaign committee ads," said Michelle Romero, manager of the Our Democracy program at the Greenlining Institute, which is supporting the legislation. "We hope to really pierce through the committee names to the top three donors behind ballot measure expenditure campaigns."

Romero's ideal realization of this bill would be to require political ads to list donors by the name of the corporation, rather than just its made-up PAC name. "Instead of saying, 'This ad was paid for by the Committee for Responsible California,' the ad would list the logos and names of top donors," said Romero. "For example: the donors are Chevron, Comcast, etc."

Yet other states have taken even bolder steps to counteract the Citizens United decision. The Montana Supreme Court recently affirmed a ban on unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns, seemingly defying the U.S. Supreme Court. But the Montana judges said that due to the rural state's low-budget elections and the ability of a few large corporations (particularly mining interests) to drown out everyone else, the Citizens United case did not apply to Montana's Corrupt Practices Law, which bars corporations from using company resources to make political contributions.

"The government is supposed to represent the people,” Romero said, “not corporate interests." said Romero.


That's all you need to know.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

It's not that simple. Yes, there's the supremacy clause, but the 10th Amendment reserves for states and the people powers not expressly given to the federal government. And in this case, the Supremes ruled in a specific case balancing competing state interests, and the interpretation can be different when the conditions differ, as the Montana court found. Only absolutists speak in absolutes, there's always more to know before drawing simple conclusions.

Posted by steven on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

their anti-Sodomy law and for other States to continue to ban abortions. You appear to want one set of rules when it suits you and another set when it doesn't.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

You seem to be unaware that, indeed, the US Constitution guarantees to the states all rights not explicitly preserved to the feds. Of course the states can not violate the rest of the Constitution such as depriving their citizens the right of free speech.

That's what's so outrageous about the feds coming down on Cal and other states regarding pot - it's not their business and thus they should have no say.

As for sodomy and abortions, the Supremes ruled that these were cases of the states violating the privacy of their citizens which is guaranteed under some other part of the US Constitution (all you consititutional scholars out there - state what part is privacy under).

Sometimes the Supremes fuck up bad and the Citizens United decision, as well as the 1976 Buckley decision which said money = speech, were two such cases of fucking up bad which is why all good citizens who can, should work to overturn it by joining the Amend movement.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

want to intervene to enforce a left-wing value like freedom for abortions and gay marriage, then that is OK?

But if the Feds want to intervene to enforce the freedom to bear arms or to enforce federal drug laws, then that is suddenly wrong?

Wow, how convenient.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

Feds are already enforcing federal drug and gun laws, in case you haven't noticed. And exactly when was there federal "enforcement of gay marriage"? Try to think just a little bit before you waste people's time with completely imbecilic posts.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

puzzling post.

I think I see why you want legal weed.

The feds are not enforcing gay marriage, there is a case winding it's way through the federal courts on behalf of gay marriage.

The previous poster makes the case that the left want to call for states rights when they can get over and call for constitutionalism when they can get over. Very Robert Bork.

signed, Anynews Outlet America

Posted by matlock on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:29 am

furthers, say, abortion or gay rights. But then cry foul when the Feds over-ride local gun or drug laws.

Total hypocrisy.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:15 am

Liberals only want the feds involved when THEIR RIGHTS are being taken away.

Let's look at the examples you provide: pregnancy choice, homosexuality, and guns.

Liberals say allow people to have their rights while rightwingers like yourself say take away rights - the right of a women to control her body, the right of a person to be who he or she is - whether it's heterosexual or homosexual or a mix.

There is no inherent right to any degree of weaponry in the US Constitution (USC). That clause in the second amendment was in the context of militias. It didn't put restrictions on the size of the weaponry, or the power because the focus of it wasn't people and guns - the focus was on the militias fighting the British - basically proxies for a standing army before their was a standing army.

Of course it would be an unstable society that allowed, by Constitutional right, for everyone to openly carry an AK 47 - yet that's the absurdity the rightwingers like yourself want to say the USC grants.

The second amendment NEVER had been ruled that citizens have the right to carry guns until VERY RECENTLY this rightwing, heavily-politicized John Roberts Supreme court ruled this way. John Roberts was a Republican operative before getting on the court - and the absurd ruling shows why such a person should not be allowed on the SC.

This SC, due to the appointees from Reagan and both Bush presidents, are terribly damaging this country in many ways. Which is why people are going to have to push to amend the constitution at least in one case - to say corporations are not people - an absurdity that this highly-politicized, rightwing court has authored.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:50 pm


The right is no better, thus my Robert Bork comparison.

Bork was for years always on about how abortion should be a states rights issue, while being a federalist on countless other things.

Your whole defense is really a rationalization for the actions of the left.

"if they can do it so can we"

Posted by matlock on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

Here's a link to an impartial analysis of John Roberts:

"Jane Sullivan Roberts, Married to Judge John Roberts: Jane Sullivan Roberts is an accomplished attorney at the respected Washington DC law firm, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. Mrs. Roberts is Catholic, and was active in Feminists for Life, a pro-life organization."

"Faith - A lifelong Catholic"

"1992 - Nominated to US Court of Appeals by Bush 1, but never received a Senate vote, due to fears over his partisanship"

"Executive Committee, DC Lawyers for Bush-Quayle, 1988
Member, Lawyers for Bush-Cheney (major player in 2000 Florida recount)"

"Member, National Republican Lawyer Association"

Given this guy's heavy Republican partisanship and his religion (and that religion's focus on depriving women the right to control their body and not the govt) and his wife's work and membership in anti-choice organizations and him apparently calling Roe vs Wade a bad decision, I think it's safe to say he would overturn R vs W in a second if he had a chance.

Just look at the incredible reaches he and his rightwingers on the court did to get their Citizens United decision - they had to GREATLY EXPAND the case in front of them to get to the decision they did.

TALK ABOUT AN ACTIVIST COURT. This guy and the other 3 fulltime rightwingers and 1 parttime rightwinger (Kennedy) do not care one wit about precedence or what the Constitution says ("let's call corporations people and say the Constitution backs us up").

His wife was one of the biggest corporate attorneys (as was he) so it's not surprising he believes corps should have more power than the people or their govt.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

whether unions should be allowed to make political contributions?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

So your post is a mystery.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

It's not a question of "left-wing values" - it's about the rights the US Constitution grants to the people. If you don't want those rights, fine, but most people do.

The ruling regarding abortion was about the rights of PRIVACY that the US Constitution to the people of the United States. Wikipedia has a good write-up about it and the US Constitution so read it there if you want all the details.

You apparently want a federal government that can control everything you and every other citizen does and can take away your rights granted under the Constitution. The govt has no business intruding into a women's body before there's a viable human being there. Fact is nature aborts fetuses all the time in fertile women - you can deny it or not but it's a fact.

Gay marriage is another example that proves you want a federal govt that tells people how to live - fact is there are gay people. You may not like it but that's not the issue - the issue is those ppl should not have to be anyone different so they can satisfy you or the others that want to take away rights we all have.

Your problem is you just don't like the personal freedoms and rights granted by the founders when they wrote the US Constitution and those in the subsequent amendments.

What the Roberts court did in the Citizens United decision was an absurdity -saying the US Constitution allows for corporations to be considered like people with the rights people get in that document.

That's an absurdity and was just a BLATANT GIFT to large international corporations so that they would be, in essense, free from control by the US govt since, with the CU ruling, they could BUY the politicians and the laws they wanted.

That you can defend such an absurdity does not make you or your values or your reasoning ability look good.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

Citizens United gave unions the same sweeping powers of political funding. (One prominent union even submitted an amicus brief to the Court in favor of the outcome.) Do you criticize that aspect of the ruling, too?

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

Yes, but unions just don't have nearly as much money as corporations, so they don't have the same power to corrupt the system.

Posted by steven on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

If that's the case, then why does the CTA have more influence over the California Legislature than anyone or anything? Our state legislators are beholden to the CTA (and the prison guards union).

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

CTA doesn't have more influence than big money. It's that California voters on the whole are more liberal (for various reasons) than most states. But that doesn't mean big money can't greatly distort the vote.

Remember in the 1990's when Sen. Feinstein, who was an incumbent senator, was popular statewide with high approval ratings, was running for re-election? Early polls had her winning easily against all Republican challengers.

Then this extremely-rich Republican named Michael Huffington, who hardly anyone had heard of, decided to run against her. He spent millions and millions on tv ads that repeatedly and harshly attacked Feinstein.

It worked. Gradually and steadily Feinstein's high approval numbers went down due to the avalanche of paid political ads trashing her by the barely-known Michael Huffington and his high-priced campaign consultants.

On election day, Feinstein won re-election by an extremely small amount - if I recall correctly the election outcome wasn't known until the next day - easily the closest race she's had when running for Senate. And as I said, she was a very popular incumbent - two properties that usually make it almost impossible to lose re-election, especially to a barely known politician.

What that election showed is just the amazing power of big money. Due only to the power to flood the airwaves (tv and radio) could a no-name politician with an almost limited stack of cash get so close to taking down a Senator with a high approval rating and the power of incumbency.

The CTA's isn't controlling elections - they are inline with the opinion of the majority of the electorate.

When a big-money force like Michael Huffington in that Senate election can so distort public opinion using, essentially mind-control via repeated viewing of ads trashing their opponent, then that's no longer democracy.

That's a system where whoever has the most money can get what they want at the ballot box - whether it's the politicians they want (or don't want) or the initiatives they want (or don't want).

Any system that uses mind control to decide elections is a seriously dysfunctional (and undemocratic) system. That's why the Citizens United decision must be overturned in some fashion.

The Supremes could revisit it and correct their mistake or a constitutional amendment is needed to correct their mistake for them - might as well work on the latter and maybe the Supremes will get the message they screwed up.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 12:57 am

Few people knew who Bill Clinton was. but then tons of money poured in and he beat a guy who at one time had a 90% approval rating.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:23 am

If Ross Perot was not in the race, Clinton wouldn't have won in 1992. Perot's 20% support - a very large % for a 3rd party - came almost exclusively from GHWB's support. He (Perot) was allowed in all the debates - something that the two parties will never allow again for a third party candidate.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

... in my analogy.

As to Perot, not so sure about that.


I should have mentioned that Huffington was the republican nominee, so thus he would have lots of cash to spend to get his name out there. Feinstein isn't that popular that she isn't going to get some close calls, party money is going to make most anyone a viable candidate.

If the public not knowing who the challenger is means they should get killed, then Clinton should have been beaten, Perot should have polled 1% and Clinton 25%. But all that union money changed all of that.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

This is one of those Zombie Lies that Just Won't Die, and at this point a lot of folks actually believe it. In reality, however, it's not only untrue, but almost impossible.

Both pre-election polls, exit polls, and post-election polling has shown that not only did Perot voters not make the difference, but they actually would have leaned toward Clinton.

For them to have made the difference, they would have had to split in favor of Bush 65-35. That's wildly out of line with any polling I've seen. That would have made them as conservative as the voters of the State of Utah. In reality, they were nowhere near that conservative. Perot voters were a center-right, independent bunch, like their candidate.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

Your post falls apart in the first sentence: "CTA doesn't have more influence than big money." CTA is big money. They contribute more to political spending than any other entity in California.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:33 am

Get real - we're talking about a union of TEACHERS. Let me say that again - TEACHERS.

Apparently you think the CTA is such a financial fatcat - money that comes from union dues taken from the checks of TEACHERS - can't be EASILY matched financially by many other interests.

Are you honestly saying that the CTA can't be matched by other big money forces - you know forces like LARGE CORPORATIONS or MULTI-BILLIONAIRES (like Meg Whitman) or REAL ESTATE / DEVELOPER interests or WALL STREET / FINANCIAL interests or DOCTORS???

Teachers are stronger than all those??? TEACHERS???

Can you come back with a real argument and stop this attempt at Steven Colbert comedy???

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

An increasing number of local municipalities are taking action in support of challenging CU, yet another dubious decision rendered by our Supremely Suspect Court.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 1:49 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

I guess you don't understand what an Amendment is. That's how the 80% of Americans who were not wealthy, white and male came to gain our constitutional rights.

On-point op-ed in the Chronicle today (this page has links to sources):

Posted by Demos on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

Like they're so easy to pass. When was the last one now?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

You know - from ppl that care about the future and want to improve it. That's why good ppl are getting involved in the Amend movement - because they realize the John Roberts SC (due to the appointees of Reagan and both Bushes) - has committed a terrible mistake in saying corporations are people and that all restrictions on what these international behemoths can spend in OUR elections are UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Good people are not happy or satisfied with this travesty by this terrible court and so they are fighting it.

That you want to diminish those efforts speaks volumes about yourself.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

They ruled that companies may have similar rights to people in some situations.

There is no way you will get remotely close to a constitutional amendment.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

Au contraire, as I stated, it is suspect.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

Learn how to follow and respond to a thread.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

Read your post

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:41 am

You responded to the original article and not anyone's reply to it.

The indentation is the key. Learn to notice it.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 9:03 am

"Indentation": a notch or recess.
"Indention": the blank pace left by indenting.
Check between your ears.
Gotta run, work to do.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 9:55 am

When was the last time that the Supreme Court plucked a case from obscurity, then expanded the scope of their considerations well beyond what the plaintiffs requested and then overturned a century of well settled law?

That is a judicial activist coup d'etat as it supplants the fundamental nature of popular sovereignty with corporate dominance.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 9:02 am

Entities like corporations and unions cannot vote, so should be allowed influence thru more indirect means.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 11:15 am

When the the SCOTUS ever pluck a case from obscurity and then expand that case's scope unilaterally in order to further empower the already powerful?

The playing field has been tilted towards corporations even with restrictions on direct contributions. The fact that finance capital ran the economy into the ground and has emerged from that failure more powerful than ever should demonstrate that clearly.

Public opinion is on my side, and the fact that public opinion cannot be translated into the law of the land demonstrates that this is by no means a democratic republic.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

Unions have nowhere near the financial assets of large corporations - corporations that may want to destroy a union so it can ship jobs overseas and thus get politicians in there who will go along.

Unions can never get anywhere remotely close to the financial weaponry of the large corps and billionaires like the Koch brothers.

Why you try to spread this bs when you know better???

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

millions of members. Who do you think you are kidding?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

Who do you think you are kidding? A union may have lots of members but they don't have hundreds of millions to spend nor can they keep think tanks going like the Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute or the CATO Institute or pay for conventions that big money paid for the Tea Party conventions.

Unions can not compete against the likes of the multi-billionaire Koch brothers or similar rightwing interests? That's a FACT - not opinion, but FACT.

Stop kidding yourself and come back to reality. You apparently want to live in a world where you're a serf to big money interests who will control what politicians are elected, what measures those politicians will pass, and thus what world you live in. You will have VERY LITTLE SAY in such a world yet you get on a board like this to ADVOCATE for such a system.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

than I trust a bunch of whiney, self-absorbed union leaders.

But I can live with the fact that SCOTUS treats them both the same here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

Requiring disclosure of who is actually paying for political advertising is good, but it's not nearly enough to be called "pushback" against the "Citizens United v.FEC" and Money-Equals-Speech Supreme Court decisions.

A constitutional amendment like Ted Deutch's HJ Res 90 and Bernie Sanders' SJ Res 33 would get us a long way to getting big for-profit corporate money influence out of our elections, a goal that 70-85% of Americans have told the Harris and Gallup polling organizations year after year after year that they want.

It only takes 357 people (290 Representatives in the House and 67 in the US Senate) to send an Amendment out to the states for ratification. If the right wing conservatives and the left wing progressives and lots of the middle people told their congressional representatives to do it, it could be done fast. Then we'd find out who's right. I'm willing to take the chance. How about You?

Posted by Bob 28th Amendment Group on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

Public Citizen has a petition for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling. Here's the link~

Posted by Lisa P. on Jan. 19, 2012 @ 5:45 pm