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Feb 04

The Impact of the Citizens United Decision on Federal Elections

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On January 21, the Supreme Court issued a major decision on campaign finance law in Citizens United v. FEC, a case involving a 2008 documentary critical of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton produced by a nonprofit advocacy organization. In a 5-4 decision, the majority led by Justice Kennedy struck a decisive blow against the McCain-Feingold law when it overturned the federal ban on independent political expenditures by corporations (and by implication, a similar ban on labor unions). Supporters of the decision such as the Wall Street Journal have hailed it as a “landmark” for “free political speech.” Critics such as the Washington Post have called the decision “dangerous” because it will “undermine the integrity” of our democracy. What will be the short term effects of this decision on the election process in 2010 and what will be the long term effects on the integrity and vibrancy of our democracy? Is this a decision that upholds the First Amendment or was it an unnecessary assertion of judicial activism? A panel of experts in the campaign finance arena, including practicing lawyers, former counsels for the DNC and RNC, and former commissioners on the Federal Election Commission will discuss these issues.

More About the Speakers

Jan W. Baran
Wiley Rein
and former General Counsel,
Republican National Committee

Joseph M. Birkenstock
Caplin & Drysdale
and former Chief Counsel,
Democratic National Committee

Marc E. Elias
Partner and Chair of Political Law Practice Group,
Perkins Coie

Michael E. Toner
Partner and Chair of Election Law and Government Ethics Practice Group,
Bryan Cave
and former Chairman,
Federal Election Commission

Hosted By

Hans A. von Spakovsky Hans A. von Spakovsky

Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow Read More