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A Century Is Longer than 20 Years

By now it is widely known that, during his State of the Union address, Barack Obama publicly criticized the Citizens United ruling.  Part of that criticism is this claim: “the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections.”

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett reveals that this claim, and others, by Mr. Obama are factually mistaken.  Here’s the core:

The Court’s ruling in Citizens United concerned the right of labor unions and domestic corporations, including nonprofits, to express their views about candidates in media such as books, films and TV within 60 days of an election. In short, it concerned freedom of speech; in particular, an independent film critical of Hillary Clinton funded by a nonprofit corporation.

While the Court reversed a 1990 decision allowing such a ban, it left standing current restrictions on foreign nationals and “entities.” Also untouched was a 100-year-old ban on domestic corporate contributions to political campaigns to which the president was presumably referring erroneously.