February 17, 2010

Private: Polling Shows Widespread Opposition to Citizens United v. FEC Decision

Campaign Finance, Citizens United v. FEC, Rep. Van Hollen, Sen. Schumer


Large swaths of the American population oppose the Supreme Court's recent ruling on corporate campaign spending, according to a Washington Post-ABC News 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 Washington Post reported.

The newspaper reported that the polling also revealed "little difference of opinion on the issue among" Democrats and Republicans and that it suggested "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."

Gary Langer, director of polling at ABC News, noted that the survey also revealed that even some supporters of the Tea Party movement, which rails against the federal government, oppose the outcome in Citizens United.

"Even among people who agree at least somewhat with the Tea Party movement," Langer wrote, "73 percent oppose the high court's rejection of this particular law. Among the subset who agree strong with the Tea Party's position on the issues - 14 percent of all adults - fewer but still most, 56 percent, oppose the high court in this case."

Langer's post includes the entire polling data here.

The 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission found that corporations have free speech rights to spend on campaigns, overturning decades of precedent upholding regulations on corporate campaign financing.

The Post noted that Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen are working on legislation addressing the ruling in Citizens United. In response to the new poll, Sen. Schumer, said, "If there's one thing that Americans from the left, right and center can all agree on, it's that they don't want more special interest in our politics."

ACS will host a panel discussion on Feb. 24 at the National Press Club on the implications of the ruling, including how it may impact the midterm elections. The panel discussion will include Jan W. Baran, a nationally recognized campaign and elections law attorney, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Citizens United arguing in support of corporations' free speech rights to spend on campaigns, and Joseph Sandler, a former general counsel for the Democratic National Committee, and also a campaign finance law expert. Following the ruling, Sandler told USA Today that it will likely make it a tougher challenge for incumbents seeking reelection.

See here for more information about the ACS event, "Citizens United v. FEC: The Decision, Its Implications, and the Road Ahead." Check here for additional expert commentary on the case from ACSblog.