the historical account of campaign finance law given in United States v

The historical account of campaign finance law given

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the historical account of campaign finance law given in United States v. Automobile Workers , 352 U. S. 567 (1957). Ante , at 48. Austin did not so much as allude to this historical account, much less rely on it. Even if the scholarship cited by the majority is correct that certain campaign finance reforms were less deliberate or less benignly motivated than Automobile Workers suggested, the point remains that this body of law has played a significant and broadly accepted role in American political life for decades upon decades.
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20 CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N Opinion of S TEVENS , J. sion would dislodge settled rights and expectations or require an extensive legislative response.’” Hubbard v. United States , 514 U. S. 695, 714 (1995) (quoting Hilton v. South Carolina Public Railways Comm’n , 502 U. S. 197, 202 (1991)). Stare decisis protects not only personal rights involving property or contract but also the ability of the elected branches to shape their laws in an effective and coherent fashion. Today’s decision takes away a power that we have long permitted these branches to exercise. State legislatures have relied on their authority to regu- late corporate electioneering, confirmed in Austin , for more than a century. 20 The Federal Congress has relied on this authority for a comparable stretch of time, and it specifically relied on Austin throughout the years it spent developing and debating BCRA. The total record it com- piled was 100,000 pages long. 21 Pulling out the rug be- neath Congress after affirming the constitutionality of §203 six years ago shows great disrespect for a coequal branch. By removing one of its central components, today’s ruling makes a hash out of BCRA’s “delicate and intercon- nected regulatory scheme.” McConnell , 540 U. S., at 172. Consider just one example of the distortions that will follow: Political parties are barred under BCRA from soliciting or spending “soft money,” funds that are not subject to the statute’s disclosure requirements or its source and amount limitations. 2 U. S. C. §441i; McCon- nell , 540 U. S., at 122–126. Going forward, corporations and unions will be free to spend as much general treasury money as they wish on ads that support or attack specific —————— 20 See Brief for State of Montana et al. as Amici Curiae 5–13; see also Supp. Brief for Senator John McCain et al. as Amici Curiae 1a–8a (listing 24 States that presently limit or prohibit independent election - eering expenditures from corporate general treasuries). 21 Magleby, The Importance of the Record in McConnell v. FEC , 3 Election L. J. 285 (2004).
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21 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010) Opinion of S TEVENS , J. candidates, whereas national parties will not be able to spend a dime of soft money on ads of any kind. The Court’s ruling thus dramatically enhances the role of corporations and unions—and the narrow interests they represent—vis-à-vis the role of political parties—and the broad coalitions they represent—in determining who will hold public office.
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