conclusions when it suggests that the BCRA record pro- vides “only scant evidence that independent expenditures . . . ingratiate,” and that, “in any event,” none of it mat- ters. Ibid. In her analysis of the record, Judge Kollar-Kotelly documented the pervasiveness of this ingratiation and explained its significance under the majority’s own touch- stone for defining the scope of the anticorruption ration- ale, Buckley . See McConnell, 251 F. Supp. 2d, at 555–560, 622–625. Witnesses explained how political parties and
66 CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N Opinion of S TEVENS , J. candidates used corporate independent expenditures to circumvent FECA’s “hard-money” limitations. See, e.g., id., at 478–479. One former Senator candidly admitted to the District Court that “‘[c]andidates whose campaigns benefit from [phony “issue ads”] greatly appreciate the help of these groups. In fact, Members will also be favora- bly disposed to those who finance these groups when they later seek access to discuss pending legislation.’” Id., at 556 (quoting declaration of Sen. Dale Bumpers). One prominent lobbyist went so far as to state, in uncontro - verted testimony, that “‘unregulated expenditures— whether soft money donations to the parties or issue ad campaigns—can sometimes generate far more influence than direct campaign contributions.’” Ibid. (quoting decla - ration of Wright Andrews; emphasis added). In sum, Judge Kollar-Kotelly found, “[t]he record powerfully dem- onstrates that electioneering communications paid for with the general treasury funds of labor unions and corpora - tions endears those entities to elected officials in a way that could be perceived by the public as corrupting.” Id., at 622–623. She concluded that the Government’s interest in preventing the appearance of corruption, as that concept was defined in Buckley , was itself sufficient to uphold BCRA §203. 251 F. Supp. 2d, at 622–625. Judge Leon agreed. See id., at 804–805 (dissenting only with re- spect to the Wellstone Amendment’s coverage of MCFL corporations). When the McConnell Court affirmed the judgment of the District Court regarding §203, we did not rest our holding on a narrow notion of quid pro quo corruption. Instead we relied on the governmental interest in combating the unique forms of corruption threatened by corporations, as recognized in Austin ’s antidistortion and shareholder protection rationales, 540 U. S., at 205 (citing Austin, 494 U. S., at 660), as well as the interest in preventing cir- cumvention of contribution limits, 540 U. S., at 128–129,
67 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010) Opinion of S TEVENS , J. 205, 206, n. 88. Had we felt constrained by the view of today’s Court that quid pro quo corruption and its appear- ance are the only interests that count in this field, ante , at 32–46, we of course would have looked closely at that issue. And as the analysis by Judge Kollar-Kotelly re- flects, it is a very real possibility that we would have found one or both of those interests satisfied and §203 appropri- ately tailored to them.
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