Near-Majority Says That Citizens United Decision Was Harmful

Almost half of people surveyed in a recent Monmouth University poll (48 percent) said that the looser campaign finance rules since the Citizens United decision have worsened the presidential election process.

Citizens United was a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that stated that political spending is a form of “free speech” protected under the First Amendment.

According to the decision, the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including advertisements.

Besides the 48 percent who feel that the looser rules have worsened the political process, just 10 percent of Americans feel that the looser rules have improved the presidential election process, according to the Monmouth survey.  29 percent said the changes over the last half-decade have not had much effect.

“The public is starting to worry that the Wild West nature of campaign finance is damaging the way we choose presidential candidates,” said Patrick Murray, the director of Monmouth University Polling Institute, writes Politico.

42 percent of Americans said that looser finance rules make it more likely that an unqualified candidate can stay in office longer, while just 14 percent it would be less likely.  33 percent said that campaign finance rules would not have any effect.

28 percent of the poll respondents said that the current funding situation makes it more likely that a qualified candidate with lower name recognition would be able to capture voters’ attention and stay in the race.  27 percent said that the campaign finance rules make it less likely that a lesser-known candidate would able to withstand a cash onslaught.  34 percent said that the new funding environment has no impact on a qualified candidate.

Asked their opinion on the best way to finance presidential campaigns, just 17 percent said the funds solely should come from public financing through the government, while 33 percent said it should come from private donations alone. A plurality of 44 percent said there should be a combination of the two.

Another important Supreme Court decision was McCutcheon v. FEC, which loosened restrictions on private citizens donating to candidates.  The Supreme Court ruled on it in 2014.

The survey was conducted by telephone from July 9-12, polling 1,001 adults across the country. The poll features a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

(Updated report)

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/citizens-united-v-federal-election-commission/

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/poll-campaign-finance-laws-2016-election-120461.html#ixzz3h6M6lqkc

Low-Level Campaign Finance Win

According to The Huffington post, in a 5-4 decision on Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld the right of states to ban elected judges from soliciting campaign contributions for their own campaigns. The majority decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s four liberal justices, writes the HuffPost.

So, states have the right to ban elected judges from receiving money for their campaigns.

Oddly, the decision comes after a long string of court rulings that overturned campaign finance regulations, among them the well-known 2010 Citizens United and the 2014 McCutcheon cases. The ruling, by contrast, maintains the ability of the states to uphold campaign finance reform in regards to elected judges. It does so by making a strong distinction between the role of the judiciary and the role of elected legislative and executive officials.

The distinction seemed weak. Roberts, writing for the majority, said: “A State’s interest in preserving public confidence in the integrity of its judiciary extends beyond its interest in preventing the appearance of corruption in legislative and executive elections. As we explained in [Republican Party of Minnesota v. White], States may regulate judicial elections differently than they regulate political elections, because the role of judges differs from the role of politicians.”

In the case before the court, Florida judicial candidate Lanell Williams-Yulee had signed her name to a fundraising solicitation letter while running for office in 2009. She did so despite Florida’s ban on fundraising solicitation by judicial candidates.

Candidates like Williams-Yulee are allowed to raise money through campaign committees, but they may not ask for the funds themselves. Williams-Yulee challenged the law as a restriction of her First Amendment right to free speech.

Surprise Ruling In Egyptian Homosexuality Trial

According to CBS news, a Cairo court acquitted 26 men on Monday who had been accused of “debauchery” in a rare victory for Egypt’s gay community that has recently faced an increasingly oppressive police crackdown.

The defendants had faced between 1-9 years in prison on varying degrees of “debauchery” — the most common Egyptian legal term used in cases against men accused of homosexuality.

Though homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, the police and courts have a history of persecuting the gay community in the socially-conservative country. Monday’s ruling surprised many observers.

“It’s unprecedented,” said longtime human rights activist Scott Long. “This just doesn’t happen.”