By Matt Welch
As mentioned last night, here's Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito shaking his head, crinkling his eyebrows, and saying "not true, not true" when the head of the executive branch complains that Citizens United vs. FEC reverses a century of precedent and allows foreign entities to corrupt our elections:
In the event, it is "not true" that the decision changes restrictions on foreign-sourced campaign donations, and Supreme Court watcher Linda Greenhouse writes in TheNew York Times (perhaps contradicting that paper's news desk) that the century-old precedent thing was wrong as well:
Mr. Obama's description of the holding of the case was imprecise. He said the court had "reversed a century of law."
The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well — although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions.
More over at the Center for Competetive Politics.