The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed a friend-of-the-court brief today in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which the Supreme Court will rehear Sept. 9. CCP’s brief argues the Court should overturn Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a related holding in McConnell v. FEC.
CCP’s brief focuses on the Supreme Court’s historic treatment of economic legislation and the role of speech in those issues. In United States v. Carolene Products Co., the Court held that laws regulating the economy would receive a lower level of scrutiny because economic liberties could be protected through “political processes, which can ordinarily be expected to bring about repeal of undesirable legislation.” By upholding corporate independent expenditure bans, Austin denies corporations the means to participate in the very “political processes” they were assured would protect them from overreaching legislation.
“Austin‘s ‘anti-distortion’ rationale is deeply flawed and badly out of step with the Court’s political speech jurisprudence,” said CCP Vice President Stephen M. Hoersting, the counsel of record on the brief. “Austin‘s concern for the corrosion supposedly caused by independent speech of incorporated organizations merely decries the absence of equalized resources for speech. It has nothing to do with preventing corruption of candidates and officeholders.”