Letter to the Editor

What ‘Citizens United’ established

E. J. Dionne Jr. [“The court’s catastrophe,” op-ed, Feb. 6] seemed so exercised by what he believes the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case concluded that he ignored what it did and did not do. It did not, for example, have anything to do with the ability of “the brute force of millionaires and billionaires” such as Sheldon Adelson to spend their money to support candidates they favor. That right of all, rooted in the First Amendment, was sustained as far back as the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1976 in Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld the right of individuals to make independent expenditures in political campaigns as they choose. Does Mr. Dionne not recall the privately funded, if odious, Swift Boat advertisements in 2004 or the vast expenditures of George Soros?

Mr. Dionne bemoaned the supposed impact of Citizens United in facilitating the efforts of those who have sought to disguise a donor’s identity. He should recall that the Supreme Court, in Citizens United, upheld by an 8 to 1 vote the constitutionality of the disclosure requirements adopted by Congress. If more are needed (and I agree that they are), that rests with Congress, not the court.

Floyd Abrams, New York

The writer represented Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) before the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC.

Whatever one may think about the majority opinion in the Citizens United decision, it seems incomprehensible and irresponsible to discuss this Supreme Court case without a single mention of the First Amendment, as E.J. Dionne Jr. did.

Even the lengthy dissent by Justice John Paul Stevens took pains to acknowledge that principles of free speech (and free speech’s restrictions) were at the heart of this case, but there was nary a word on the issue from Mr. Dionne in his attack on aggressive corporations.

Such neglect of the First Amendment is doubly ironic coming from a journalist.

Jonathan Auerbach, Cheverly

 
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