Citizens United Takes Center Stage in Election 2012

Ruling that created super PACs having huge effect
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2012 6:57 PM CST
Citizens United Takes Center Stage in Election 2012
The Super PAC Restore Our Future isn't officially connected with the Mitt Romney campaign, but it's giving the candidate a huge financial boost.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The underlying theme of the GOP race this year seems to be Citizens United, observes The Supreme Court decision that led to the creation of super PACs funded by unlimited donations is getting its first real-world test, and the results are hard to miss. Most notably: The super PAC known as Restore Our Future decimated Newt Gingrich with negative ads on behalf of Mitt Romney. As Politico notes, Gingrich called the decision at the time a "great victory for free speech," and while he still supports it, he is also complaining about being "Romney-boated" by his rival's "millionaire friends."


  • Restrictions needed? The Huffington Post gives banner treatment ("We've Created a Monster") to the issue, with Sam Stein writing that some prominent Republicans think that restrictions on super PACs are in order. Among others, it quotes Tom Ridge, who thinks that donations to the groups should be disclosed almost immediately online. "Transparency now, it is the best antiseptic," says the Jon Huntsman ally. Full story here.
  • Montana decision: At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick gives a figurative high-five to the Montana Supreme Court, which last week issued a "stunning" decision that the state could essentially ignore Citizens United and continue to restrict corporate election spending. The court "knows exactly what Justice Kennedy seems to have missed: That corruption is corruption regardless of its packaging, and that it rarely comes with a detailed disclosure label." Full piece here.
  • Overblown issue? The National Journal rounds up conservative opinion and finds little "buyer's remorse" about the ruling. It quotes a GOP consultant who thinks the issue is being exaggerated: “Every cycle there is a new vehicle as the law changed. Campaigns have always run negative ads. The vehicle may be different, but the ads certainly weren’t.” Full story here.
(More Citizens United stories.)

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