February 25, 2010

ACS Panel Discussion - Citizens United v. FEC: The Decision, Its Implications, and the Road Ahead

Caroline Fredrickson

ACS Executive Director
Begin: 0:00

William P. Marshall

Visiting Prof., George Washington Univ. Law School
Begin: 3:41

Monica Youn

Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law
Begin: 10:59

James S. Portnoy

Chief Counsel, Corporate & Gov't Affairs, Kraft Foods
Begin: 18:59

Laurence E. Gold

Of Counsel, Lichtman Trister & Ross, PLLC
Begin: 31:39

Joseph E. Sandler

Member, Sandler Reiff & Young PC
Begin: 40:59

Jan W. Baran

Partner, Wiley Rein LLP
Begin: 49:39



In a 5-4 decision issued on January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court held in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that limitations on corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections violate the First Amendment. The Court struck down a section of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act that banned corporations and unions from broadcasting "electioneering communications" within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. In so doing, the Court overruled its 1990 decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and generated substantial controversy-President Obama mentioned the decision in his State of the Union address and both the House and Senate have held hearings on the topic. Many questions linger in the wake of the decision. Does the decision represent a victory for the First Amendment or an opening for corruption of elections? What are the merits of mechanisms being considered by Congress as ways of dealing with the decision? In practical terms, what does the decision mean for corporations and unions? What does the overruling of Austin suggest about the Roberts Court and its relationship to precedent? These questions and others were discussed by a panel of experts in campaign finance law.

The panel discussion featured:

  • Moderator, William P. Marshall, Visiting Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School; William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, UNC Chapel Hill School of Law
  • Jan W. Baran, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP
  • Laurence E. Gold, Of Counsel, Lichtman, Trister & Ross, PLLC; Associate General Counsel, AFL-CIO
  • James S. Portnoy, Chief Counsel, Corporate & Government Affairs at Kraft Foods
  • Joseph E. Sandler, Member, Sandler, Reiff & Young P.C.
  • Monica Youn, Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law.