This is huge, folks. The Supreme Court today, by the totally predictable 5-4 vote, overruled a 20-year old case and held, instead, that corporations and unions may use money from their treasuries to make independent election-related expenditures. The ruling removes the need for corporate and union interests to set up separate PACs or Action Funds. The money can now come right out of the till. All the opinions are here.
The Court did uphold disclosure and disclaimer regulations providing for a limited degree of transparency.
The opinion is really long, as is Justice Stevens’ dissent. I haven’t read either yet. The two places you should go for analysis are the always-reliable SCOTUSblog and Rick Hasen’s excellent Election Law Blog. Both are likely to have useful posts up later today.
UPDATE: There is a new group called “Free Speech For People” that has announced a campaign to overturn today’s decision by amending the Constitution to clarify that corporations don’t have free speech rights. One proposal:
Section 1 The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, no corporation, limited liability entity, or other corporate entity created by state or federal law or the law of another nation shall enjoy the rights of free speech and expression protected for the people by the First Amendment.
Section 2 Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity in public election activity.
Section 3. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
Will be interesting to see if this gets any traction.