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Poll: Majority opposes recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance

February 17, 2010

One of the more controversial rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court has been its recent campaign finance decision that frees corporations and labor unions from most spending restrictions.

The decision prompted a rebuke from President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address, and has prompted legislation that would limit foreign corporations from pouring money into U.S. political campaigns.

Here’s a summary of the decision provided by the Washington Post –

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the high court ruled 5-4 that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to political speech and can therefore use their profits to support or oppose individual candidates. The decision appears to open the door to unlimited spending by corporations, trade groups and unions in the weeks leading up to an election, which has been explicitly banned for decades.

The Post reports today the results of its public opinion poll on the decision which found a large majority opposing the court’s ruling.

From the Post’s article about the poll

Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court’s Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits.

The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).

The results suggest a strong reservoir of bipartisan support on the issue for President Obama and congressional Democrats, who are in the midst of crafting legislation aimed at limiting the impact of the high court’s decision. Likely proposals include banning participation in U.S. elections by government contractors, bank bailout recipients or companies with more than 20 percent foreign ownership.

Of course, not everyone opposes the court’s ruling, such as Kentucky’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell.

From the article –

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republican lawmakers have praised the ruling as a victory for free speech and have signaled their intent to oppose any legislation intended to blunt the impact of the court’s decision.

Your thoughts on the court’s ruling? Should corporations be able to fund advertisements and efforts to support particular candidates just as an individual should? What impact might this have on political speech during campaigns?

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