Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission


I looked up the SCOTUS decision on Citizens United. Admittedly, I only did a cursory scan of some of the materials here. I was interested in the remarks about corruption. It is complicated, but in this opinion by Justice Kennedy, I found the following quote. It may very well be out of context. Check for yourself.

Justice Kennedy , Opinion of the Court

What we have said also shows the invalidity of other arguments made by the Government. For the most part relinquishing the antidistortion rationale, the Government falls back on the argument that corporate political speech can be banned in order to prevent corruption or its appearance. In Buckley , the Court found this interest “sufficiently important” to allow limits on contributions but did not extend that reasoning to expenditure limits. 424 U. S., at 25. When Buckley examined an expenditure ban, it found “that the governmental interest in preventing corruption and the appearance of corruption [was] inadequate to justify [the ban] on independent expenditures.” Id. , at 45.

With regard to large direct contributions, Buckley reasoned that they could be given “to secure a political quid pro quo ,” id. , at 26, and that “the scope of such pernicious practices can never be reliably ascertained,” id. , at 27. The practices Buckley noted would be covered by bribery laws, see, e.g., 18 U. S. C. §201, if a quid pro quo arrangement were proved. See Buckley, supra, at 27, and n. 28 (citing Buckley v. Valeo , 519 F. 2d 821, 839–840, and nn. 36–38 (CADC 1975) (en banc) (per curiam) ). The Court, in consequence, has noted that restrictions on direct contributions are preventative, because few if any contributions to candidates will involve quid pro quo arrangements. MCFL , 479 U. S., at 260; NCPAC , 470 U. S., at 500; Federal Election Comm’n v. National Right to Work Comm. , 459 U. S. 197, 210 (1982) (NRWC) . The Buckley Court, nevertheless, sustained limits on direct contributions in order to ensure against the reality or appearance of corruption. That case did not extend this rationale to independent expenditures, and the Court does not do so here.

For the reasons explained above, we now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.

Here is what I found in the Stevens opinion.

Undergirding the majority’s approach to the merits is the claim that the only “sufficiently important governmental interest in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption” is one that is “limited to quid pro quo corruption.” Ante , at 43. This is the same “crabbed view of corruption” that was espoused by Justice Kennedy in McConnell and squarely rejected by the Court in that case. 540 U. S., at 152. While it is true that we have not always spoken about corruption in a clear or consistent voice, the approach taken by the majority cannot be right, in my judgment. It disregards our constitutional history and the fundamental demands of a democratic society.

What does he mean by crabbed view? From the Oxford English Dictionary, we have the following:

1.1 (of style) contorted and difficult to understand.
‘crabbed legal language’

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