APG Unit 2 Part 1 -Required SCOTUS Case: Citizens United v. FEC
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions have the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment. It found no compelling government interest for prohibiting corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make election-related independent expenditures. Thus, it struck down a federal law banning this practice and also overruled two of its prior decisions. Additionally, in an 8-1 decision, the Court ruled that the disclaimer and disclosure requirements associated with electioneering communications are constitutional.
The Court's decision in Citizens United likely calls into question laws in 24 states, including Connecticut, prohibiting corporations from making independent expenditures from their general treasury. While the ruling's immediate effect is unclear, experts predict it is only a matter of time before these laws will be challenged in court or repealed by state legislatures. Experts also predict that, since the laws are vulnerable, they will be difficult for state election officials to enforce. In Connecticut, CGS §§ 9-613(a) and 9-614(a) prohibit independent expenditures by businesses and unions, respectively.
The decision's impact on Connecticut's lobbyist and contractor contribution and solicitation bans and the Citizens' Election Program (CEP) is less clear. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit asked the parties in Green Party of Connecticut, et al. v. Garfield, et al., 648 F. Supp. 2d 298 (D. Conn. 2009) to file supplemental briefs addressing these issues. The state contends there is little, if any, effect while the Green Party asserts the opposite.