The Pronk Pops Show 781, October 21, 2016, Part 2 of 2: Story 1: Who Won The Third 2016 Presidential Debate? Trump — Who Will Be Elected President of The United States? — Who Do You Trust The Most? — Trump — Verdict On Hillary Clinton’s Criminal Activities Given By American People on Election Day, November 8 — Videos — Story 2: Hillary Clinton Is Nurse Ratched! — Videos
The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts
Story 1: Who Won The Third 2016 Presidential Debate? Trump — Who Will Be Elected President of The United States? — Who Do You Trust The Most? — Trump — Verdict On Hillary Clinton’s Criminal Activities Given By American People on Election Day, November 8 — Videos
October 19, 2016
As we head into the final presidential debate, and with just under three weeks to go until the 2016 presidential election, here’s the state of the race from the viewpoint of 14 forecasters. You can find all the associated maps, as well as a few others, on our2016 Presidential Election Forecasts page.
Since our last update on October 13th, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s average total electoral votes are little changed. Clinton is at 300, Trump 187. Within Trump’s average, however, we are beginning to see an erosion in states where the Republican nominee is favored vs. those that are leaning in his direction. For example, a couple forecasters have moved Texas from favored to leaning.
Note that the statistical projections (shaded in gray) in the table may change several times a day as new input data (e.g., polls released that day) are processed by the models. This will lead to more variability vs. the other forecasters.
|Wednesday, October 19|
Presidential Debate – October 19, 2016
Full. Third Presidential Debate. Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton. October 19, 2016
LIVE: Third Presidential Debate (C-SPAN)
Social media mocks Hillary Clinton’s ‘creepy grandma’ grin
Hillary Clinton ~~ Pure Evil Devil Laugh (Remix)
Trump: Clinton such a nasty woman
Donald Trump: We need to get out ‘bad hombres’
Trump: Justice Ginsburg apologized to me
TRUMP RESPONDS! Project Veritas Action – Clinton Campaign and DNC Incite Violence at Trump Rallies
UPDATE , A MUST WATCH Project Veritas #3
Fox & Friends 10/15/16 NEW Wikileaks Bombshell Hillary Clinton Open Border
WikiLeaks Doc Dump on Hillary! Calls for Open Borders in Leaked Emails! – 10/7/16
WikiLeaks Hits Hillary Clinton with a 9.0 Magnitude Earthquake | 08 Oct 2016
Michael Savage – If Trumps Wins Elite Will Blame Russia And Cancel Elections
RUSH: What In The World Happened To All The Trump Voters?
LIMBAUGH: Woman Who Claims Trump ‘OCTOPUSED’ Her Is MAKING IT UP!
Wikileaks Blows To Pieces Rigged Media, Project Veritas Destroys Democratic Party Operatives
Rigging the Election – Video I: Clinton Campaign and DNC Incite Violence at Trump Rallies
Rigging the Election – Video II: Mass Voter Fraud
FOX NEWS ALERT 10/18/16 Trump On Clinton Email Scandal This Is Big Stuff. This Is Watergate.
Hillary Clinton The Movie Banned by the Courts in 2008
3 Reasons Not To Sweat The “Citizens United” SCOTUS Ruling
What You Probably Haven’t Heard About Citizens United
Justice Scalia on Citizens United (C-SPAN)
Crooked Hillary Threatens to Ban Gun Ownership With Supreme Court Nominations
Hillary Clinton Outlines Plan to Abolish the Second Amendment
The Heller Ruling, Five Years On (Robert Levy)
Dem Operative Who Oversaw Trump Rally Agitators Visited White House 342 Times
A key operative in a Democratic scheme to send agitators to cause unrest at Donald Trump’s rallies has visited the White House 342 times since 2009, White House records show.
Robert Creamer, who acted as a middle man between the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and “protesters” who tried — and succeeded — to provoke violence at Trump rallies met with President Obama during 47 of those 342 visits, according to White House records. Creamer’s last visit was in June 2016.
Creamer, whose White House visits were first pointed out by conservative blog Weasel Zippers, is stepping back from his role within the Clinton campaign. (RELATED: Second O’Keefe Video Shows Dem Operative Boasting About Voter Fraud)
Hidden camera video from activist James O’Keefe showed Creamer bragging that his role within the Clinton campaign was to oversee the work of Americans United for Change, a non-profit organization that sent activists to Trump rallies. (RELATED: Activist Who Took Credit For Violent Chicago Protests Was On Hillary’s Payroll)
Scott Foval, the national field director for Americans United for Change, explained how the scheme works.
“The [Clinton] campaign pays DNC, DNC pays Democracy Partners, Democracy Partners pays the Foval Group, The Foval Group goes and executes the shit,” Foval told an undercover journalist.
One example of the “shit” Foval executes was an instance in which a 69-year-old woman garnered headlines after claiming to be assaulted at a Trump rally.
“She was one of our activists,” Foval said.
Creamer’s job was to “manage” the work carried out by Foval.
“And the Democratic Party apparatus and the people from the campaign, the Clinton campaign and my role with the campaign, is to manage all that,” Creamer told an undercover journalist.
“Wherever Trump and Pence are gonna be we have events,” he said.
Citizens United v. FEC
|Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission|
|Argued March 24, 2009
Reargued September 9, 2009
Decided January 21, 2010
|Full case name||Citizens United, Appellant v. Federal Election Commission|
|Citations||558 U.S. 310 (more)
130 S.Ct. 876
|Opinion announcement||Opinion announcement|
|Prior history||denied appellants motion for a preliminary injunction 530 F. Supp. 2d 274 (D.D.C. 2008)probable jurisdiction noted128 S. Ct. 1471 (2008).|
|The Freedom of the Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation. And the provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act prohibiting unions, corporations and not-for-profit organizations from broadcasting electioneering communications within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election violates the clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. United States District Court for the District of Columbia reversed.|
|Majority||Kennedy, joined by Roberts, Scalia, Alito; Thomas (all but Part IV); Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor (only as to Part IV)|
|Concurrence||Roberts, joined by Alito|
|Concurrence||Scalia, joined by Alito; Thomas (in part)|
|Concur/dissent||Stevens, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor|
|U.S. Const. amend. I, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act|
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
|McConnell v. FEC (in part)|
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, 558U.S.310 (2010), is a U.S. constitutional law and corporate law case dealing with the regulation of campaign spending by organizations. The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) that freedom of speech prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation. The principles articulated by the Supreme Court in the case have also been extended to for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.
In the case, the conservativenon-profit organizationCitizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts, which was a violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act or “BCRA”. Section 203 of BCRA defined an “electioneering communication” as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary, and prohibited such expenditures by corporations and unions. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that §203 of BCRA applied and prohibited Citizens United from advertising the film Hillary: The Movie in broadcasts or paying to have it shown on television within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries. The Supreme Court reversed this decision, striking down those provisions of BCRA that prohibited corporations (including nonprofit corporations) and unions from making independent expenditures and “electioneering communications”. The majority decision overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and partially overruled McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003). The Court, however, upheld requirements for public disclosure by sponsors of advertisements (BCRA §201 and §311). The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remain illegal in races for federal office.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (known as BCRA or McCain–Feingold Act) – specifically §203, which modified the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 U.S.C.§ 441b – prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury to fund “electioneering communications” (broadcast advertisements mentioning a candidate) within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election. During the 2004 presidential campaign, a conservative nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization named Citizens United filed a complaint before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) charging that advertisements for Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11, a docudrama critical of the Bush administration’s response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, constituted political advertising and thus could not be aired within the 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before a general election. The FEC dismissed the complaint after finding no evidence that broadcast advertisements for the film and featuring a candidate within the proscribed time limits had actually been made. The FEC later dismissed a second complaint which argued that the movie itself constituted illegal corporate spending advocating the election or defeat of a candidate, which was illegal under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974. In dismissing that complaint, the FEC found that:
The complainant alleged that the release and distribution of FAHRENHEIT 9/11 constituted an independent expenditure because the film expressly advocated the defeat of President Bush and that by being fully or partially responsible for the film’s release, Michael Moore and other entities associated with the film made excessive and/or prohibited contributions to unidentified candidates. The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents violated the Act because the film, associated trailers and website represented bona fide commercial activity, not “contributions” or “expenditures” as defined by the Federal Election Campaign Act.
In the wake of these decisions, Citizens United sought to establish itself as a bona fide commercial film maker, producing several documentary films between 2005 and 2007. By early 2008, it sought to run television commercials to promote its political documentary Hillary: The Movie and to air the movie on DirecTV.
In the District Court
In December 2007 Citizens United filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the constitutionality of several statutory provisions governing “electioneering communications”. It asked the court to declare that the corporate and union funding restrictions were unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to Hillary: The Movie, and to enjoin the Federal Election Commission from enforcing its regulations. Citizens United also argued that the Commission’s disclosure and disclaimer requirements were unconstitutional as applied to the movie pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.. It also sought to enjoin the funding, disclosure, and disclaimer requirements as applied to Citizens United’s intended ads for the movie.
In accordance with special rules in section 403 of the BCRA, a three-judge court was convened to hear the case. On January 15, 2008, the court denied Citizens United’s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the suit had little chance of success because the movie had no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote against Senator Clinton, that it was therefore express advocacy, not entitled to exemption from the ban on corporate funding of electioneering communications, and that television advertisements for the movie within 30 days of a primary violated the BCRA restrictions on “electioneering communications”. The court held that the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC (2003) had found the disclosure requirements constitutional as to all electioneering communications, and Wisconsin RTL did not disturb this holding because the only issue of that case was whether speech that did not constitute the functional equivalent of express advocacy could be banned during the relevant pre-election period.
On July 18, 2008, the District Court granted summary judgement to the Federal Election Commission. In accordance with the special rules in the BCRA, Citizens United appealed to the Supreme Court which docketed the case on August 18, 2008 and granted certiorari on November 14, 2008.
Before the Supreme Court
During the original oral argument, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart (representing the FEC) argued that under Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the government would have the power to ban books if those books contained even one sentence expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate and were published or distributed by a corporation or labor union. In response to this line of questioning, Stewart further argued that under Austin the government could ban the digital distribution of political books over the Amazon Kindle or prevent a union from hiring a writer to author a political book.
According to a 2012 article in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin, the Court expected after oral argument to rule on the narrow question that had originally been presented: could Citizens United show the film? At the subsequent conference among the justices after oral argument, the vote was 5–4 in favor of Citizens United being allowed to show the film. The justices voted the same as they had in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., a similar 2007 case, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito in the majority.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the initial opinion of the Court, holding that the BCRA allowed the showing of the film. A draft concurring opinion by Justice Kennedy argued that the court could and should have gone much further. The other justices in the majority began agreeing with Kennedy, and convinced Roberts to reassign the writing and allow Kennedy’s concurrence to become the majority opinion.
On the other side, John Paul Stevens, the most senior justice in the minority, assigned the dissent to David Souter, who announced his retirement from the Court while he was working on it. The final draft went beyond critiquing the majority. Toobin described it as “air[ing] some of the Court’s dirty laundry,” writing that Souter’s dissent accused Roberts of having manipulated Court procedures to reach his desired result – an expansive decision that, Souter claimed, changed decades of election law and ruled on issues neither party to the litigation had presented.
According to Toobin, Roberts was concerned that Souter’s dissent, likely to be his last opinion for the Court, could “damage the Court’s credibility.” He agreed with the minority to withdraw the opinion and schedule the case for reargument. However, when he did, the “Questions Presented” to the parties were more expansive, touching on the issues Kennedy had identified. According to Toobin, the eventual result was therefore a foregone conclusion from that point on. Toobin’s account has been criticized for drawing conclusions unsupported by the evidence in his article.
On June 29, 2009, the last day of the term, the Court issued an order directing the parties to re-argue the case on September 9 after briefing whether it might be necessary to overrule Austin and/or McConnell v. Federal Election Commission to decide the case. Justice Stevens noted in his dissent that in its prior motion for summary judgment Citizens United had abandoned its facial challenge of BCRA §203, with the parties agreeing to the dismissal of the claim.
Justice Sotomayor sat on the bench for the first time during the second round of oral arguments. This was the first case argued by then-Solicitor General and future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson and First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams argued for Citizens United, and former Clinton Solicitor General Seth Waxman defended the statute on behalf of various supporters. Legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky called it “one of the most important First Amendment cases in years”.
Opinions of the Court
Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion found that the BCRA §203 prohibition of all independent expenditures by corporations and unions violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The majority wrote, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”
Justice Kennedy’s opinion also noted that because the First Amendment does not distinguish between media and other corporations, the BCRA restrictions improperly allowed Congress to suppress political speech in newspapers, books, television, and blogs. The Court overruled Austin, which had held that a state law that prohibited corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates in elections did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court also overruled that portion of McConnell that upheld BCRA’s restriction of corporate spending on “electioneering communications”. The Court’s ruling effectively freed corporations and unions to spend money both on “electioneering communications” and to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates (although not to contribute directly to candidates or political parties).
The majority ruled that the Freedom of the Press clause of the First Amendment protects associations of individuals in addition to individual speakers, and further that the First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker. Corporations, as associations of individuals therefore, have free speech rights under the First Amendment. Because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, as established in Buckley v. Valeo, limiting a corporation’s ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues.
The decision overruled Austin because that decision allowed different restrictions on speech-related spending based on corporate identity. Additionally, the decision said that Austinwas based on an “equality” rationale – trying to equalize speech between different speakers – that the Court had previously rejected as illegitimate under the First Amendment in Buckley. The Michigan statute at issue in Austin had distinguished between corporate and union spending, prohibiting the former while allowing the latter. The Austin Court, over the dissent by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and O’Connor, had held that such distinctions were within the legislature’s prerogative. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, however, the majority argued that the First Amendment purposefully keeps the government from interfering in the “marketplace of ideas” and “rationing” speech, and it is not up to the legislatures or the courts to create a sense of “fairness” by restricting speech.
The majority also criticized Austin’s reasoning that the “distorting effect” of large corporate expenditures constituted a risk of corruption or the appearance of corruption. Rather, the majority argued that the government had no place in determining whether large expenditures distorted an audience’s perceptions, and that the type of “corruption” that might justify government controls on spending for speech had to relate to some form of “quid pro quo” transaction: “There is no such thing as too much speech.” The public has a right to have access to all information and to determine the reliability and importance of the information. Additionally, the majority did not believe that reliable evidence substantiated the risk of corruption or the appearance of corruption, and so this rationale did not satisfy strict scrutiny.
The Court’s opinion relied heavily on the reasoning and principles of the landmark campaign finance case of Buckley and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, in which the Court struck down a broad prohibition against independent expenditures by corporations in ballot initiatives and referenda. Specifically, the Court echoed Bellotti’s rejection of categories based on a corporation’s purpose. The majority argued that to grant Freedom of the Press protections to media corporations, but not others, presented a host of problems; and so all corporations should be equally protected from expenditure restrictions.
The Court found that BCRA §§201 and 311, provisions requiring disclosure of the funder, were valid as applied to the movie advertisements and to the movie itself. The majority ruled for the disclosure of the sources of campaign contributions, saying that
…prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are “in the pocket” of so-called moneyed interests…This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.
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Roberts wrote to further explain and defend the Court’s statement that “there is a difference between judicial restraint and judicial abdication.” Roberts explained why the Court must sometimes overrule prior decisions. Had prior Courts never gone against stare decisis, for example, “segregation would be legal, minimum wage laws would be unconstitutional, and the Government could wiretap ordinary criminal suspects without first obtaining warrants”. Roberts’ concurrence recited a plethora of case law in which the court had ruled against precedent. Ultimately, Roberts argued that “stare decisis…counsels deference to past mistakes, but provides no justification for making new ones”.
Justice Scalia joined the opinion of the Court, and wrote a concurring opinion joined by Justice Alito in full and by Justice Thomas in part. Scalia addressed Justice Stevens‘ dissent, specifically with regard to theoriginal understanding of the First Amendment. Scalia said Stevens’ dissent was “in splendid isolation from the text of the First Amendment…It never shows why ‘the freedom of speech’ that was the right of Englishmen did not include the freedom to speak in association with other individuals, including association in the corporate form.” He further considered the dissent’s exploration of the Framers’ views about the “role of corporations in society” to be misleading, and even if valid, irrelevant to the text. Scalia principally argued that the First Amendment was written in “terms of speech, not speakers” and that “Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker.” Scalia argued that the Free Press clause was originally intended to protect the distribution of written materials and did not only apply to the media specifically. This understanding supported the majority’s contention that the Constitution does not allow the Court to separate corporations into media and non-media categories.
Justice Thomas wrote a separate opinion concurring in all but the upholding of the disclosure provisions. In order to protect the anonymity of contributors to organizations exercising free speech, Thomas would have struck down the reporting requirements of BCRA §201 and §311 as well, rather than allowing them to be challenged only on a case-specific basis. Thomas’s primary argument was that anonymous free speech is protected and that making contributor lists public makes the contributors vulnerable to retaliation, citing instances of retaliation against contributors to both sides of a then recent California voter initiative. Thomas also expressed concern that such retaliation could extend to retaliation by elected officials. Thomas did not consider “as-applied challenges” to be sufficient to protect against the threat of retaliation.
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A dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor. To emphasize his unhappiness with the majority, Stevens read part of his 90-page dissent from the bench. Stevens concurred in the Court’s decision to sustain BCRA’s disclosure provisions, but dissented from the principal holding of the Court. He argued that the Court’s ruling “threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” He added: “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”
Stevens also argued that the Court addressed a question not raised by the litigants when it found BCRA §203 to be facially unconstitutional, and that the majority “changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law”. He argued that the majority had expanded the scope beyond the questions presented by the appellant and that therefore a sufficient record for judging the case did not exist. Stevens argued that at a minimum the Court should have remanded the case for a fact-finding hearing, and that the majority did not consider other compilations of data, such as the Congressional record for justifying BCRA §203.
Stevens referenced a number of major cases to argue that the Court had long recognized that to deny Congress the power to safeguard against “the improper use of money to influence the result [of an election] is to deny to the nation in a vital particular the power of self protection”. After recognizing that in Buckley v. Valeo the Court had struck down portions of a broad prohibition of independent expenditures from any sources, Stevens argued that nevertheless Buckley recognized the legitimacy of “prophylactic” measures for limiting campaign spending and found the prevention of “corruption” to be a reasonable goal for legislation. Consequently, Stevens argued that Buckley left the door open for carefully tailored future regulation. Although the majority echoed many of the arguments in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, Stevens argued that the majority opinion contradicted the reasoning of other campaign finance cases – in particular, Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission – and found it telling that the majority, when citing such cases, referenced mainly dissenting opinions.
Stevens’ dissent specifically sought to address a number of the majority’s central arguments:
First, Stevens argued that the majority failed to recognize the possibility for corruption outside strict quid pro quo exchanges. He referenced facts from a previous BCRA challenge to argue that, even if the exchange of votes for expenditures could not be shown, contributors gain favorable political access from such expenditures. The majority considered access to be insufficient justification for limiting speech rights.
Stevens, however, argued that in the past, even when striking down a ban on corporate independent expenditures, the Court “never suggested that such quid pro quo debts must take the form of outright vote buying or bribes” (Bellotti). Buckley, he said, also acknowledged that large independent expenditures present the same dangers as quid pro quo arrangements, although Buckley struck down limits on such independent expenditures. Using the record from a previous BCRA §203 challenge, he argued that independent expenditures were sometimes a factor in gaining political access and concluded that large independent expenditures generate more influence than direct campaign contributions. Furthermore, Stevens argued that corporations could threaten Representatives and Senators with negative advertising to gain unprecedented leverage. Stevens supported his argument by citing Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., where the Court held that $3 million in independent expenditures in a judicial race raised sufficient questions about a judge’s impartiality to require the judge to recuse himself in a future case involving the spender. Stevens argued that it was contradictory for the majority to ignore the same risks in legislative and executive elections, and argued that the majority opinion would exacerbate the problem presented in Caperton because of the number of states with judicial elections and increased spending in judicial races.
Second, Stevens argued that the majority did not place enough emphasis on the need to prevent the “appearance of corruption” in elections. Earlier cases, including Buckley and Bellotti, recognized the importance of public confidence in democracy. Stevens cited recent data indicating that 80% of the public view corporate independent expenditures as a method used to gain unfair legislative access. Stevens predicted that if the public believes that corporations dominate elections, disaffected voters will stop participating.
Third, Stevens argued that the majority’s decision failed to recognize the dangers of the corporate form. Austin held that the prevention of corruption, including the distorting influence of a dominant funding source, was a sufficient reason for regulating corporate independent expenditures. In defending Austin, Stevens argued that the unique qualities of corporations and other artificial legal entities made them dangerous to democratic elections. These legal entities, he argued, have perpetual life, the ability to amass large sums of money, limited liability, no ability to vote, no morality, no purpose outside profit-making, and no loyalty. Therefore, he argued, the courts should permit legislatures to regulate corporate participation in the political process.
Legal entities, Stevens wrote, are not “We the People” for whom our Constitution was established. Therefore, he argued, they should not be given speech protections under the First Amendment. The First Amendment, he argued, protects individual self-expression, self-realization and the communication of ideas. Corporate spending is the “furthest from the core of political expression” protected by the Constitution, he argued, citing Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, and corporate spending on politics should be viewed as a business transaction designed by the officers or the boards of directors for no purpose other than profit-making. Stevens called corporate spending “more transactional than ideological”. Stevens also pointed out that any member of a corporation may spend personal money on promoting a campaign because BCRA only prohibited the use of general treasury money.
Fourth, Stevens attacked the majority’s central argument: that the prohibition of spending guards free speech and allows the general public to receive all available information. Relying on Austin, Stevens argued that corporations “unfairly influence” the electoral process with vast sums of money that few individuals can match, which distorts the public debate. Because a typical voter can only absorb so much information during a relevant election period, Stevens described “unfair corporate influence” as the potential to outspend others, to push others out of prime broadcasting spots and to dominate the “marketplace of ideas”. This process, he argued, puts disproportionate focus on this speech and gives the impression of widespread support regardless of actual support. Thus, this process marginalizes the speech of other individuals and groups.
Stevens referred to the majority’s argument that “there is no such thing as too much speech” as “facile” and a “straw man” argument. He called it an incorrect statement of First Amendment law because the Court recognizes numerous exceptions to free speech, such as fighting words, obscenity restrictions, time, place and manner restrictions, etc. Throughout his dissent, Stevens said that the majority’s “slogan” ignored the possibility that too much speech from one source could “drown out” other points of view.
Fifth, Stevens criticized the majority’s fear that the government could use BCRA §203 to censor the media. The focus placed on this hypothetical fear made no sense to him because it did not relate to the facts of this case – if the government actually attempted to apply BCRA §203 to the media (and assuming that Citizens United could not constitute “media”), the Court could deal with the problem at that time. Stevens described the majority’s supposed protection of the media as nothing more than posturing. According to him, it was the majority’s new rule, announced in this case, that prohibited a law from distinguishing between “speakers” or funding sources. This new rule would be the only reason why media corporations could not be exempted from BCRA §203. In this, Stevens and the majority conceptualize the First Amendment’s protection of “the press” quite differently. Stevens argues that the “Press” is an entity, which can be distinguished from other persons and entities which are not “press”. The majority opinion viewed “freedom of the press” as an activity, applicable to all citizens or groups of citizens seeking to publish views.
Sixth, Stevens claimed that the majority failed to give proper deference to the legislature. Stevens predicted that this ruling would restrict the ability of the states to experiment with different methods for decreasing corruption in elections. According to Stevens, this ruling virtually ended those efforts, “declaring by fiat” that people will not “lose faith in our democracy”. Stevens argued that the majority’s view of a self-serving legislature, passing campaign-spending laws to gain an advantage in retaining a seat, coupled with “strict scrutiny” of laws, would make it difficult for any campaign finance regulation to be upheld in future cases.
Seventh, Stevens argued that the majority opinion ignored the rights of shareholders. A series of cases protects individuals from legally compelled payment of union dues to support political speech. Because shareholders invest money in corporations, Stevens argued that the law should likewise help to protect shareholders from funding speech that they oppose. The majority, however, argued that ownership of corporate stock was voluntary, and that unhappy shareholders could simply sell off their shares if they did not agree with the corporation’s speech. Stevens also argued that Political Action Committees (PACs), which allow individual members of a corporation to invest money in a separate fund, are an adequate substitute for general corporate speech and better protect shareholder rights. The majority, by contrast, had argued that most corporations are too small and lack the resources and raw number of shareholders and management staff necessary to cover the compliance, accounting, and administrative costs of maintaining a PAC. In this dispute, the opposing views essentially discussed differing types of entities: Stevens focused his argument on large, publicly held corporations, while the justices in the majority, and particularly Justice Scalia’s concurring opinion, placed an emphasis on small, closely held corporations and non-profits.
Stevens called the majority’s faith in “corporate democracy” an unrealistic method for a shareholder to oppose political funding. A derivative suit is slow, inefficient, risky and potentially expensive. Likewise, shareholder meetings only happen a few times a year, not prior to every decision or transaction. Rather, the officers and boards control the day-to-day spending, including political spending. According to Stevens, the shareholders have few options, giving them “virtually nonexistent” recourse for opposing a corporation’s political spending. Furthermore, most shareholders use investment intermediaries, such as mutual funds or pensions, and by the time a shareholder may find out about a corporation’s political spending and try to object, the damage is done and the shareholder has funded disfavored speech.
Stevens concluded his dissent:
At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.
There was a wide range of reactions to the case from politicians, academics, attorneys, advocacy groups and journalists.
For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process. With today’s monumental decision, the Supreme Court took an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups by ruling that the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day. By previously denying this right, the government was picking winners and losers. Our democracy depends upon free speech, not just for some but for all.
Citizens United, the group filing the lawsuit, said, “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Citizens United to air its documentary films and advertisements is a tremendous victory, not only for Citizens United but for every American who desires to participate in the political process.” During litigation, Citizens United had support from the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association.
Campaign finance attorney Cleta Mitchell, who had filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of two advocacy organizations opposing the ban, wrote that “The Supreme Court has correctly eliminated a constitutionally flawed system that allowed media corporations (e.g., The Washington Post Co.) to freely disseminate their opinions about candidates using corporate treasury funds, while denying that constitutional privilege to Susie’s Flower Shop Inc. … The real victims of the corporate expenditure ban have been nonprofit advocacy organizations across the political spectrum.”
Heritage Foundation fellow Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former Republican member of the Federal Election Commission, said “The Supreme Court has restored a part of the First Amendment that had been unfortunately stolen by Congress and a previously wrongly-decided ruling of the court.”
Libertarian Cato Institute analysts John Samples and Ilya Shapiro wrote that restrictions on advertising were based on the idea “that corporations had so much money that their spending would create vast inequalities in speech that would undermine democracy”. However, “to make campaign spending equal or nearly so, the government would have to force some people or groups to spend less than they wished. And equality of speech is inherently contrary to protecting speech from government restraint, which is ultimately the heart of American conceptions of free speech.”
The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief that supported the decision, saying that “section 203 should now be struck down as facially unconstitutional”, though membership was split over the implications of the ruling and its board sent the issue to its special committee on campaign finance for further consideration. On March 27, 2012, the ACLU reaffirmed its stance in support of the Supreme Court’sCitizens United ruling.
Academics and attorneys
Bradley A. Smith, professor of law at Capital University Law School, former chairman of the FEC, founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and a leading proponent of deregulation of campaign finance, wrote that the major opponents of political free speech are “incumbent politicians” who “are keen to maintain a chokehold on such speech”. Empowering “small and midsize corporations – and every incorporated mom-and-pop falafel joint, local firefighters’ union, and environmental group – to make its voice heard” frightens them. In response to statements by President Obama and others that the ruling would allow foreign entities to gain political influence through U.S. subsidiaries, Smith pointed out that the decision did not overturn the ban on political donations by foreign corporations and the prohibition on any involvement by foreign nationals in decisions regarding political spending by U.S. subsidiaries, which are covered by other parts of the law.
Campaign finance expert Jan Baran, a member of the Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform, agreed with the decision, writing that “The history of campaign finance reform is the history of incumbent politicians seeking to muzzle speakers, any speakers, particularly those who might publicly criticize them and their legislation. It is a lot easier to legislate against unions, gun owners, ‘fat cat’ bankers, health insurance companies and any other industry or ‘special interest’ group when they can’t talk back.” Baran further noted that in general conservatives and libertarians praised the ruling’s preservation of the First Amendment and freedom of speech, but that liberals and campaign finance reformers criticized it as greatly expanding the role of corporate money in politics.
Attorney Kenneth Gross, former associate general counsel of the FEC, wrote that corporations relied more on the development of long-term relationships, political action committees and personal contributions, which were not affected by the decision. He held that while trade associations might seek to raise funds and support candidates, corporations which have “signed on to transparency agreements regarding political spending” may not be eager to give.
The New York Times asked seven academics to opine on how corporate money would reshape politics as a result of the court’s decision. Three of the seven wrote that the effects would be minimal or positive: Christopher Cotton, a University of Miami School of Business assistant professor of economics, wrote that “There may be very little difference between seeing eight ads or seeing nine ads (compared to seeing one ad or two). And, voters recognize that richer candidates are not necessarily the better candidates, and in some cases, the benefit of running more ads is offset by the negative signal that spending a lot of money creates.Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at UCLA, stated that the “most influential actors in most political campaigns” are media corporations which “overtly editorialize for and against candidates, and also influence elections by choosing what to cover and how to cover it”. Holding that corporations like Exxon would fear alienating voters by supporting candidates, the decision really meant that voters would hear “more messages from more sources”. Joel Gora, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who had previously argued the case of Buckley v. Valeo on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the decision represented “a great day for the First Amendment” writing that the Court had “dismantled the First Amendment ‘caste system’ in election speech”.
The Editorial Board of the San Antonio Express-News criticized McCain–Feingold’s exception for media corporations from the ban on corporate electioneering, writing that it “makes no sense” that the paper could make endorsements up until the day of the election but advocacy groups could not. “While the influence of money on the political process is troubling and sometimes corrupting, abridging political speech is the wrong way to counterbalance that influence.”
Anthony Dick in National Review countered a number of arguments against the decision, asking rhetorically, “is there something uniquely harmful and/or unworthy of protection about political messages that come from corporations and unions, as opposed to, say, rich individuals, persuasive writers, or charismatic demagogues?” He noted that “a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority of the public actually agrees with the Court that corporations and unions should be treated just like individuals in terms of their political-expenditure rights”. A Gallup poll taken in October 2009 and released soon after the decision showed 57 percent of those surveyed agreed that contributions to political candidates are a form of free speech and 55 percent agreed that the same rules should apply to individuals, corporations and unions. Sixty-four percent of Democrats and Republicans believed campaign donations are a form of free speech.
Chicago Tribune editorial board member Steve Chapman wrote “If corporate advocacy may be forbidden as it was under the law in question, it’s not just Exxon Mobil and Citigroup that are rendered mute. Nonprofit corporations set up merely to advance goals shared by citizens, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association, also have to put a sock in it. So much for the First Amendment goal of fostering debate about public policy.”
President Barack Obama stated that the decision “gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington – while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates”. Obama later elaborated in his weekly radio address saying, “this ruling strikes at our democracy itself” and “I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest”.On January 27, 2010, Obama further condemned the decision during the 2010 State of the Union Address, stating that, “Last week, 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. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.” On television, the camera shifted to a shot of the SCOTUS judges in the front row directly in front of the President while he was making this statement, and Justice Samuel Alito was frowning, shaking his head side to side while mouthing the words “Not true”.
Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, a lead sponsor of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, stated “This decision was a terrible mistake. Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president.”RepresentativeAlan Grayson, a Democrat, stated that it was “the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case, and that the court had opened the door to political bribery and corruption in elections to come. Democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards, along with constitutional law professor and Maryland Democratic State Senator Jamie Raskin, have advocated petitions to reverse the decision by means of constitutional amendment. Rep. Leonard Boswell introduced legislation to amend the constitution. Senator John Kerry also called for an Amendment to overrule the decision. On December 8, 2011, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed the Saving American Democracy Amendment, which would reverse the court’s ruling.
Republican Senator John McCain, co-crafter of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, said “there’s going to be, over time, a backlash … when you see the amounts of union and corporate money that’s going to go into political campaigns”. McCain was “disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court and the lifting of the limits on corporate and union contributions” but not surprised by the decision, saying that “It was clear that Justice Roberts, Alito and Scalia, by their very skeptical and even sarcastic comments, were very much opposed to BCRA.” Republican Senator Olympia Snowe opined that “Today’s decision was a serious disservice to our country.”
Although federal law after Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission still prohibited corporate contributions to all political parties, Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party, stated that “The ruling especially hurts the ability of parties that don’t accept corporate contributions, like the Green Party, to compete.” Another Green Party officer, Rich Whitney, stated “In a transparently political decision, a majority of the US Supreme Court overturned its own recent precedent and paid tribute to the giant corporate interests that already wield tremendous power over our political process and political speech.”
Ralph Nader condemned the ruling, saying that “With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars.” He called for shareholder resolutions asking company directors to pledge not to use company money to favor or oppose electoral candidates.Pat Choate, former Reform Party candidate for Vice President, stated, “The court has, in effect, legalized foreign governments and foreign corporations to participate in our electoral politics.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender in the 2016 Democratic Primary, has filed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Decision. Further, both Sanders and Hillary Clinton have said that, if elected, they will only appoint Supreme Court Justices who are committed to the repeal of Citizens United. In September 2015, Sanders said that “the foundations of American Democracy are being undermined” and called for sweeping campaign finance reform.
Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, speaking for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe‘s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (which has overseen over 150 elections) said the ruling may adversely affect the organization’s two commitments of “giving voters a genuine choice and giving candidates a fair chance” in that “it threatens to further marginalize candidates without strong financial backing or extensive personal resources, thereby in effect narrowing the political arena”.
Academics and attorneys
|“||Money isn’t speech and corporations aren’t people||”|
|— David Kairys|
The constitutional law scholar Laurence H. Tribe wrote that the decision “marks a major upheaval in First Amendment law and signals the end of whatever legitimate claim could otherwise have been made by the Roberts Court to an incremental and minimalist approach to constitutional adjudication, to a modest view of the judicial role vis-à-vis the political branches, or to a genuine concern with adherence to precedent” and pointed out, “Talking about a business corporation as merely another way that individuals might choose to organize their association with one another to pursue their common expressive aims is worse than unrealistic; it obscures the very real injustice and distortion entailed in the phenomenon of some people using other people’s money to support candidates they have made no decision to support, or to oppose candidates they have made no decision to oppose.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, whose opinions had changed from dissenting in Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce to co-authoring (with Stevens) the majority opinion in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission twelve years later, criticized the decision only obliquely, but warned, “In invalidating some of the existing checks on campaign spending, the majority in Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”
Richard L. Hasen, professor of election law at Loyola Law School, argued that the ruling “is activist, it increases the dangers of corruption in our political system and it ignores the strong tradition of American political equality”. He also described Justice Kennedy’s “specter of blog censorship” as sounding more like “the rantings of a right-wing talk show host than the rational view of a justice with a sense of political realism”.
Kathleen M. Sullivan, professor at Stanford Law School and Steven J. Andre, adjunct professor at Lincoln Law School, argued that two different visions of freedom of speech exist and clashed in the case. An egalitarian vision skeptical of the power of large agglomerations of wealth to skew the political process conflicted with a libertarian vision skeptical of government being placed in the role of determining what speech people should or should not hear. Wayne Batchis, Professor at the University of Delaware, in contrast, argues that the Citizens United decision represents a misguided interpretation of the non-textual freedom of association.
The four other scholars of the seven writing in the aforementionedNew York Times article were critical.Richard L. Hasen, Distinguished Professor of election law at Loyola Law School argued differently from his Slate article above, concentrating on the “inherent risk of corruption that comes when someone spends independently to try to influence the outcome of judicial elections”, since judges are less publicly accountable than elected officials. Heather K. Gerken, Professor of Law at Yale Law School wrote that “The court has done real damage to the cause of reform, but that damage mostly came earlier, with decisions that made less of a splash.” Michael Waldman, director of the Brennan Center for Justice at N.Y.U. School of Law, opined that the decision “matches or exceeds Bush v. Gore in ideological or partisan overreaching by the court”, explaining how “Exxon or any other firm could spend Bloomberg-level sums in any congressional district in the country against, say, any congressman who supports climate change legislation, or health care, etc.” andFred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21 considered that “Chief Justice Roberts has abandoned the illusory public commitments he made to ‘judicial modesty’ and ‘respect for precedent’ to cast the deciding vote for a radical decision that profoundly undermines our democracy,” and that “Congress and presidents past have recognized this danger and signed numerous laws over the years to prevent this kind of corruption of our government.”
The New York Times stated in an editorial, “The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.”Jonathan Alter called it the “most serious threat to American democracy in a generation”. The Christian Science Monitor wrote that the Court had declared “outright that corporate expenditures cannot corrupt elected officials, that influence over lawmakers is not corruption, and that appearance of influence will not undermine public faith in our democracy”.
In 2012, Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, founded Stamp Stampede, a sustained protest to demonstrate widespread support for a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. The campaign encourages people to rubber stamp messages such as “Not To Be Used for Bribing Politicians” on paper currency. In 2014, Cohen told Salon, “As long as the Supreme Court rules money is speech, corporations and the wealthy are using it by giving piles of it to politicians to pass or not pass laws that they want. Now, the rest of the people, [those] who don’t have that money, can actually make their voice heard by using money to stamp a message out.”
Most blogs avoided the theoretical aspects of the decision and focused on more personal and dramatic elements, including the Barack Obama–Samuel Alito face-off during the President’s State of the Union address. There, President Obama argued that the decision “reversed a century of law” (the federal ban on corporate contributions dates back to the 1907 Tillman Act, and the ban on union and corporate expenditures dates from 1947) and that it would allow “foreign corporations to spend without limits in our elections”, during which Justice Alito, in the audience, perceptibly mouthed the words “not true”. This event received extensive comment from political bloggers, with a substantial amount of the coverage concentrated on whether or not foreign corporations would be able to make substantial political contributions in US elections. In the opinion, the Court had specifically indicated it was not overturning the ban on foreign contributions.
An ABC–Washington Post poll conducted February 4–8, 2010, showed that 80% of those surveyed opposed (and 65% strongly opposed) the Citizens United ruling, which the poll described as saying “corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections”. Additionally, 72% supported “an effort by Congress to reinstate limits on corporate and union spending on election campaigns”. The poll showed large majority support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.
A Gallup Poll conducted in October 2009, after oral argument, but released after the Supreme Court released its opinion, found that 57 percent of those surveyed “agreed that money given to political candidates is a form of free speech” and 55 percent agreed that the “same rules should apply to individuals, corporations and unions”. However, in the same poll respondents by 52% to 41% prioritized limits on campaign contributions over protecting rights to support campaigns and 76% thought the government should be able to place limits on corporation or union donations.
Separate polls by various conservative organizations, including the plaintiff Citizens United and the Center for Competitive Politics, found support for the decision. In particular, the Center for Competitive Politics poll found that 51% of respondents believed that Citizens United should have a right to air ads promoting Hillary: The Movie. The poll also found that only 22 percent had heard of the case.
Further court rulings
SpeechNow v. FEC
SpeechNow is a nonprofit, unincorporated association organized as a section 527 entity under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The organization was formed by individuals who seek to pool their resources to make independent expenditures expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates. SpeechNow planned to accept contributions only from individuals, not corporations or other sources prohibited under the Federal Election Campaign Act. On February 14, 2008, SpeechNow and several individual plaintiffs filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act provisions governing political committee registration, contribution limits and disclosure. The plaintiffs contended that the Act unconstitutionally restricts their association guaranteed under the First Amendment. By requiring registration as a political committee and limiting the monetary amount that an individual may contribute to a political committee, SpeechNow and the other plaintiffs asserted that the Act unconstitutionally restricted the individuals’ freedom of speech by limiting the amount that an individual can contribute to SpeechNow and thus the amount the organization may spend. SpeechNow also argued that the reporting required of political committees is unconstitutionally burdensome.
On March 26, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in SpeechNow.org. v. FEC that the contribution limits of 2 U.S.C. §441a were unconstitutional as applied to individuals’ contributions to SpeechNow. The court also ruled that the reporting requirements of 2 U.S.C. §§432, 433 and 434(a) and the organizational requirements of 2 U.S.C. §431(4) and §431(8) can be constitutionally applied to SpeechNow. A unanimous nine-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals struck down the federal limits on contributions to federal political committees that make only independent expenditures and do not contribute to candidates or political parties. This type of “independent expenditure committee” is inherently non-corruptive, the Court reasoned, and therefore contributions to such a committee can not be limited based on the government’s interest in preventing political corruption. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, in which the Supreme Court held that the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting independent expenditures, the appeals court ruled that “contributions to groups that make only independent expenditures cannot corrupt or create the appearance of corruption.” As a result, the court of appeals held that the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting contributions to an independent group such as SpeechNow. Contribution limits as applied to SpeechNow “violate the First Amendment by preventing [individuals] from donating to SpeechNow in excess of the limits and by prohibiting SpeechNow from accepting donations in excess of the limits.” The court noted that its holding does not affect direct contributions to candidates, but rather contributions to a group that makes only independent expenditures. The appeals court held that, while disclosure and reporting requirements do impose a burden on First Amendment interests, they “‘impose no ceiling on campaign related activities'” and “‘do not prevent anyone from speaking.'” Furthermore, the court held that the additional reporting requirements that the Commission would impose on SpeechNow if it were organized as a political committee are minimal, “given the relative simplicity with which SpeechNow intends to operate.” Since SpeechNow already had a number of “planned contributions” from individuals, the court ruled that SpeechNow could not compare itself to “ad hoc groups that want to create themselves on the spur of the moment.” Since the public has an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate and who is funding that speech, the court held that requiring such disclosure and organization as a political committee are sufficiently important governmental interests to justify the additional reporting and registration burdens on SpeechNow.
Public electoral financing
On June 27, 2011, ruling in the consolidated cases of Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett (No. 10-238) and McComish v. Bennett (No. 10-239), the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional an Arizona law that provided extra taxpayer-funded support for office seekers who have been outspent by privately funded opponents or by independent political groups. A conservative 5–4 majority of justices said the law violated free speech, concluding the state was impermissibly trying to “level the playing field” through a public finance system. Arizona lawmakers had argued there was a compelling state interest in equalizing resources among competing candidates and interest groups. Opponents said the law violated free-speech rights of the privately financed candidates and their contributors, inhibiting fundraising and spending, discouraging participation in campaigns and limiting what voters hear about politics. Chief Justice John Roberts said in the court’s majority opinion that the law substantially burdened political speech and was not sufficiently justified to survive First Amendment scrutiny.
As a consequence of the decision, states and municipalities are blocked from using a method of public financing that is simultaneously likely to attract candidates fearful that they will be vastly outspent and sensitive to avoiding needless government expense. “The government can still use taxpayer funds to subsidize political campaigns, but it can only do that in a manner that provides an alternative to private financing” said William R. Maurer, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice, which represented several challengers of the law. “It cannot create disincentives.” The ruling meant the end of similar matching-fund programs in Connecticut, Maine and a few other places according to David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester who was an expert witness for the law’s challengers.
State campaign-spending limits
Despite the Citizens United ruling, In December 2011, the Montana Supreme Court, in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, upheld that state’s law limiting corporate contributions. Examining the history of corporate interference in Montana government that led to the Corrupt Practices Law, the majority decided that the state still had a compelling reason to maintain the restrictions. It ruled that these restrictions on speech were narrowly tailored and withstood strict scrutiny and thus did not contradict Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
While granting permission to file a Certiorari petition, the US Supreme Court agreed to stay the Montana ruling, although Justices Ginsburg and Breyer wrote a short statement urging the Court “to consider whether, in light of the huge sums of money currently deployed to buy candidate’s allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway”. In June 2012, over the dissent of the same four judges who dissented in Citizens United, the Court simultaneously granted certiorari and summarily reversed the decision in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, 567, U.S. __ (2012). The Supreme Court majority rejected the Montana Supreme Court arguments in a two paragraph, twenty line per curiam opinion, stating that these arguments “either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.” The ruling makes clear that states cannot bar corporate and union political expenditures in state elections.
McCutcheon v. FEC
In addition to limiting the size of donations to individual candidates and parties, the Federal Election Campaign Act also includes aggregate caps on the total amount that an individual may give to all candidates and parties. In 2012, Shaun McCutcheon, a Republican Party activist, sought to donate more than was allowed by the federal aggregate limit on federal candidates. McCutcheon et al filed suit against theFederal Election Commission (FEC). In 2014, the US Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the DC District Court‘s dismissal of McCutcheon v. FEC and struck down the aggregate limits. The plurality opinion invalidated only the aggregate contribution limits, not limits on giving to any one candidate or party. The decisive fifth vote for McCutcheon came from Justice Thomas, who concurred in the judgment on the grounds that all contribution limits are unconstitutional.
The New York Times reported that 24 states with laws prohibiting or limiting independent expenditures by unions and corporations would have to change their campaign finance laws because of the ruling.
After Citizens United and SpeechNow.org numerous state legislatures raised their limits on contributions to candidates and parties. At the federal level, lawmakers substantially increased contribution limits to political parties as part of the 2014 budget bill. Such changes are widely perceived as efforts to place candidates and parties on something closer to equal footing with organizations making independent expenditures.
While many states and the federal government have raised contribution limits in response to Citizens United, proposals aimed at discouraging political spending, or providing for public financing of campaigns, have been less successful.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) proposed that candidates who sign up small donors receive $900,000 in public money, but the proposal has not been acted on by Congress. Others proposed that laws on corporate governance be amended to assure that shareholders vote on political expenditures.
In February 2010, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, immediate past Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, outlined legislation aimed at undoing the decision. In April 2010, they introduced such legislation in the Senate and House, respectively. On June 24, 2010, H.R.5175 (The DISCLOSE Act) passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate. It would have required additional disclosure by corporations of their campaign expenditures. The law, if passed, would also have prohibited political spending by U.S. companies with twenty percent or more foreign ownership, and by most government contractors. The DISCLOSE Act included exemptions to its rules given to certainspecial interests such as the National Rifle Association and the American Association of Retired Persons. These gaps within the proposal attracted criticism from lawmakers on both political parties. “They are auctioning off pieces of the First Amendment in this bill… The bigger you are, the stronger you are, the less disclosure you have,” said Republican Congressman Dan Lungren of California. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California commented, “I wish there had been no carve-outs”. The bill was criticized as prohibiting much activity that was legal before Citizens United.
The DISCLOSE Act twice failed to pass the U.S. Senate in the 111th Congress, in both instances reaching only 59 of the 60 votes required to overcome a unified Republican filibuster. A scaled down version of the DISCLOSE Act was reintroduced in both the House and Senate in 2012 but did not pass.
Some have argued for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision. Although the decision does not address “corporate personhood,” a long-established judicial and constitutional concept, much attention has focused on that issue. Move to Amend, a coalition formed in response to the ruling, seeks to amend the Constitution to abolish corporate personhood, thus stripping corporations of all rights under the Constitution. In an online chat with web community Reddit, President Obama endorsed further consideration of a constitutional amendment and stated “Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court Doesn’t revisit it)”. He further elaborated that “Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight on the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”
Legislative reactions by state and local lawmakers
Members of 16 state legislatures have called for a constitutional amendment to reverse the court’s decision: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.
Most of these are non-binding resolutions. However, three states – Vermont, California, and Illinois – called for an Article V Convention to draft and propose a federal constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Senate passed a similar resolution, “Senate File No. 17,” on May 2, 2013, but the House of Representatives returned the measure to the General Calendar (meaning the measure did not pass) on May 15, 2013. Thirty-four states are needed to call an Article V convention.
On a local level, Washington D.C. and 400 other municipalities passed resolutions requesting a federal constitutional amendment.
Since Citizens United, however, 13 states have actually raised their contribution limits.
The Citizens United ruling “opened the door” for unlimited election spending by corporations, but most of this spending has “ended up being funneled through the groups that have become known as super PACs”.While critics predicted that the ruling would “bring about a new era of corporate influence in politics” allowing companies and businesspeople to “buy elections” to promote their financial interests, as of 2016, in fact large corporations still play a “negligible role” in presidential election spending. Instead large expenditures, usually through “Super PACS,” have come from “a small group of billionaires”, based largely on ideology. This has shifted power “away from the political parties and toward the … donors themselves. In part, this explains the large number and variety of candidates fielded by the Republicans in 2016.” The ability of individuals to spend unlimited sums was first affirmed by the Supreme Court, however, not in Citizens United, but in Buckley v. Valeo, decided in 1976.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has often been credited for the creation of “super PACs“, political action committees which make no financial contributions to candidates or parties, and so can accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions. Certainly, the holding in Citizens United helped affirm the legal basis for super PACs by deciding that, for purposes of establishing a “compelling government interest” of corruption sufficient to justify government limitations on political speech, “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption”.
However, it took another decision, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Speechnow.org v. Federal Election Commission, to actually authorize the creation of super PACs. While Citizens United held that corporations and unions could make independent expenditures, a separate provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act, at least as long interpreted by the Federal Election Commission, held that individuals could not contribute to a common fund without it becoming a PAC. PACs, in turn, were not allowed to accept corporate or union contributions of any size or to accept individual contributions in excess of $5,000. In Speechnow.org, the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, held 9–0 that in light of Citizens United, such restrictions on the sources and size of contributions could not apply to an organization that made only independent expenditures in support of or opposition to a candidate, but not contributions to a candidate’s campaign.
Citizens United and SpeechNOW left their imprint on the 2012 United States presidential election, in which single individuals contributed large sums to “super PACs” supporting particular candidates. Sheldon Adelson, the gambling entrepreneur, gave approximately fifteen million dollars to support Newt Gingrich. Foster Friess, a Wyoming financier, donated almost two million dollars to Rick Santorum’s super PAC. Karl Rove organized super PACs that spent over $300 million in support of Republicans during the 2012 elections.
In addition to indirectly providing support for the creation of super PACs, Citizens United allowed incorporated 501(c)(4) public advocacy groups (such as the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club, and the group Citizens United itself) and trade associations to make expenditures in political races. Such groups may not, under the tax code, have a primary purpose of engaging in electoral advocacy. These organizations must disclose their expenditures, but unlike super PACs they do not have to include the names of their donors in their FEC filings. A number of partisan organizations such as Karl Rove‘s influential conservative Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies and the liberal 21st Century Colorado have since registered as tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups (defined as groups promoting “social welfare”) and engaged in substantial political spending. This has led to claims of large secret donations, and questions about whether such groups should be required to disclose their donors. Historically, such non-profits have not been required to disclose their donors or names of members. See National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama.
In an August 2015 essay in Der Spiegel, Markus Feldkirchen wrote that the Citizens United decision was “now becoming visible for the first time” in federal elections as the super-rich have “radically” increased donations to support their candidates and positions via super PACs. Feldkirchen also said in the first six months of 2015 the candidates and their super PACs received close to $400 million: “far more than in the entire previous campaign.” He opined that super-rich donating more than ever before to individual campaigns plus the “enormous” chasm in wealth has given the super-rich the power to steer the economic and political direction of the United States and undermine its democracy. In October 2015, the New York Times observed that just 158 super-rich families each contributed $250,000 or more, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000 for the 2016 presidential election. Both groups contributed almost half of the “early money” for candidates in the 2016 presidential election as of June 30, 2015 through channels like super PACs legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
- 1996 United States campaign finance controversy
- 2009 term opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Bank of the United States v. Deveaux (1809)
- James Bopp
- David Bossie
- Issue advocacy ads
- US corporate law
- Bowman v United Kingdom  ECHR 4, (1998) 26 EHRR 1, case under the European Convention on Human Rights allowing restrictions on spending money to promote political equality
- Harper v. Canada (Attorney General)  SCR 827, restrictions on spending in Canada
- Animal Defenders International v United Kingdom  ECHR 362, the leading case in Europe held that the UK’s total ban on political advertising was compatible with freedom of expression “given the danger of unequal access based on wealth and to political advertising” which goes “to the heart of the democratic process.”
District of Columbia v. Heller
|District of Columbia v. Heller|
|Argued March 18, 2008
Decided June 26, 2008
|Full case name||District of Columbia, et al. v. Dick Anthony Heller|
|Citations||554 U.S. 570 (more)
128 S. Ct. 2783; 171 L. Ed. 2d 637; 2008 U.S. LEXIS 5268; 76 U.S.L.W. 4631; 21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 497
|Opinion announcement||Opinion announcement|
|Prior history||Provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 infringe an individual’s right to bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment. District Court for the District of Columbia reversed.|
|Procedural history||Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
|The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.|
|Majority||Scalia, joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito|
|Dissent||Stevens, joined by Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer|
|Dissent||Breyer, joined by Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg|
|U.S. Const. amend. II; D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22–4504, 7–2507.02|
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmarkcase in which the Supreme Court of the United States held in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to federal enclaves and protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The decision did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond federal enclaves to the states, which was addressed later by McDonald v. Chicago (2010). It was the first Supreme Court case to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.
On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Heller v. District of Columbia. The Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 as unconstitutional, determined that handguns are “arms” for the purposes of the Second Amendment, found that the Regulations Act was an unconstitutional ban, and struck down the portion of the Regulations Act that requires all firearms including rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock“. Prior to this decision the Firearms Control Regulation Act of 1975 also restricted residents from owning handguns except for those registered prior to 1975.
Lower court background
In 2002, Robert A. Levy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, began vetting plaintiffs with Clark M. Neily III for a planned Second Amendment lawsuit that he would personally finance. Although he himself had never owned a gun, as a Constitutional scholar he had an academic interest in the subject and wanted to model his campaign after the legal strategies of Thurgood Marshall, who had successfully led the challenges that overturned school segregation. They aimed for a group that would be diverse in terms of gender, race, economic background, and age, and selected six plaintiffs from their mid-20s to early 60s, three men and three women, four white and two black:
- Shelly Parker
- A software designer and former nurse who had been active in trying to rid her neighborhood of drugs. Parker is a single woman whose life had been threatened on numerous occasions by drug dealers who had sometimes tried to break into her house.
- Tom G. Palmer
- A colleague of Robert A. Levy at the Cato Institute and the only plaintiff that Levy knew before the case began. Palmer, who is gay, defended himself with a 9mm handgun in 1982. While walking with a friend in San Jose, California, he was accosted by a gang of about 20 young men who used profane language regarding his sexual orientation and threatened his life. When he produced his gun, the men fled. Palmer believes that the handgun saved his life.
- Gillian St. Lawrence
- A mortgage broker who lives in the Georgetown section of D.C. and who owns several legally registered long guns which she uses for recreation in nearby Chantilly, Virginia. It had taken St. Lawrence two years to complete the registration process. She wanted to be able to use these guns to defend herself in her home and to be able to register a handgun.
- Tracey Ambeau (now Tracey Hanson)
- An employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Originally from St. Gabriel, Louisiana, she lives in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C. with her husband, Andrew Hanson, who is from Waterloo, Iowa. They live in a high-crime neighborhood near Union Station in D. C. She grew up around guns and wanted one to defend her home.
- George Lyon
- A communications lawyer who had previously contacted the National Rifle Association about filing a lawsuit to challenge the D.C. gun laws. Lyon held D.C. licenses for a shotgun and a rifle, but wanted to have a handgun in his home.
- Dick Anthony Heller
- A licensed special police officer for the District of Columbia. For his job, Heller carried a gun in federal office buildings, but was not allowed to have one in his home. Heller had lived in southeast D.C. near the Kentucky Courts public housing complex since 1970 and had seen the neighborhood “transformed from a child-friendly welfare complex to a drug haven”. Heller had also approached the National Rifle Association about a lawsuit to overturn the D.C. gun ban, but the NRA declined.
Previous federal case law pertaining to the question of an individual’s right to bear arms included United States v. Emerson, 270 F.3d 203 (5th Cir. 2001), which supported the right and Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2002), which opposed the right. The Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) was interpreted to support both sides of the issue.
In February 2003, the six residents of Washington, D.C. filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, a local law (part of the District of Columbia Code) enacted pursuant to District of Columbia home rule. This law restricted residents from owning handguns, excluding those grandfathered in by registration prior to 1975 and those possessed by active and retired law enforcement officers. The law also required that all firearms including rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.” They filed for an injunction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 2201, 2202, and 42 U.S.C.§ 1983. District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina dismissed the lawsuit.
Court of Appeals
On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the dismissal in a 2–1 decision. The Court of Appeals struck down provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act as unconstitutional. JudgesKaren L. Henderson, Thomas B. Griffith and Laurence H. Silberman formed the Court of Appeals panel, with Senior Circuit Judge Silberman writing the court’s opinion and Circuit Judge Henderson dissenting.
The court’s opinion first addressed whether appellants have standing to sue for declaratory and injunctive relief in section II (slip op. at 5–12). The court concluded that of the six plaintiffs, only Heller – who applied for a handgun permit but was denied – had standing.
The court then held that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to keep and bear arms”, saying that the right was “premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad).” They also noted that though the right to bear arms also helped preserve the citizen militia, “the activities [the Amendment] protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.” The court determined that handguns are “Arms” and concluded that thus they may not be banned by the District of Columbia.
The court also struck down the portion of the law that requires all firearms including rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.” The District argued that there is an implicit self-defense exception to these provisions, but the D.C. Circuit rejected this view, saying that the requirement amounted to a complete ban on functional firearms and prohibition on use for self-defense:
Section 7-2507.02, like the bar on carrying a pistol within the home, amounts to a complete prohibition on the lawful use of handguns for self-defense. As such, we hold it unconstitutional.
In her dissent, Circuit Judge Henderson stated that Second Amendment rights did not extend to residents of Washington D.C., writing:
To sum up, there is no dispute that the Constitution, case law and applicable statutes all establish that the District is not a State within the meaning of the Second Amendment. Under United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. at 178, the Second Amendment’s declaration and guarantee that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” relates to the Militia of the States only. That the Second Amendment does not apply to the District, then, is, to me, an unavoidable conclusion.
Petition for rehearing
In April 2007, the District and Mayor Adrian Fenty petitioned for rehearing en banc, arguing that the ruling creates inter- and intra-jurisdictional conflict. On May 8, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied the request to rehear the case, by a 6–4 vote.
The defendants petitioned the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. The plaintiffs did not oppose but, in fact, welcomed the petition. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on November 20, 2007.The court rephrased the question to be decided as follows:
The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to the following question: Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22–4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?
Amicus curiae briefs
Because of the controversial nature of the case, it garnered much attention from many groups on both sides of the gun rights issue. Many of those groups filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, about 47 urging the court to affirm the case and about 20 to remand it.
A majority of the members of Congress signed the brief authored by Stephen Halbrook advising that the case be affirmed overturning the ban on handguns not otherwise restricted by Congress.Vice PresidentDick Cheney joined in this brief, acting in his role as President of the United States Senate, and breaking with the George W. Bush administration’s official position. Arizona Senator John McCain, Republican, also signed the brief. Then Illinois Senator Barack Obama, did not.
A majority of the states signed the brief of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, authored by Abbott’s solicitor general, Ted Cruz, advising that the case be affirmed, while at the same time emphasizing that the states have a strong interest in maintaining each of the states’ laws prohibiting and regulating firearms. Law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, also filed a brief urging that the case be affirmed.
A number of organizations signed friend of the court briefs advising that the case be remanded, including the United States Department of Justice and Attorneys General of New York, Hawaii, Maryland,Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. Additionally, friend of the court briefs to remand were filed by a spectrum of religious and anti-violence groups, a number of cities and mayors, and many police chiefs and law enforcement organizations.
A collection of organizations and prominent scholars, represented by Attorney Jeffrey Teichert, submitted an “errors brief” arguing that many of the common historical and factual “myths and misrepresentations” generally offered in favor of banning handguns were in error. Teichert’s errors brief argued from a historical perspective that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear arms.[dead link]
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on March 18, 2008. Both the transcript and the audio of the argument have been released. Each side was initially allotted 30 minutes to argue its case, with U.S. Solicitor GeneralPaul D. Clement allotted 15 minutes to present the federal government’s views. During the argument, however, extra time was extended to the parties, and the argument ran 23 minutes over the allotted time.
Walter E. Dellinger of the law firm O’Melveny & Myers, also a professor at Duke University Law School and former Acting Solicitor General, argued the District’s side before the Supreme Court. Dellinger was assisted by Thomas Goldstein of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Robert Long of Covington & Burling and D.C. Solicitor General Todd Kim. The law firms assisting the District worked pro bono.
Alan Gura, of the D.C.-based law firm Gura & Possessky, was lead counsel for Heller, and argued on his behalf before the Supreme Court. Robert Levy, a senior fellow at theCato Institute, and Clark Neily, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, were his co-counsel.
The Supreme Court held:
- (1) The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.
- (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.
- (b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.
- (c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment. Pp. 28–30.
- (d) The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms. Pp. 30–32.
- (e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion. Pp. 32–47.
- (f) None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542 , nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 , refutes the individual-rights interpretation.United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 , does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes.
- (2) Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.
- (3) The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition – in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute – would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home. Pp. 56–64.
Second Amendment findings and reasoning for the decision
In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court undertook its first-ever “in-depth examination” of the second amendment’s meaning Id. at 635. After a lengthy historical discussion, the Court ultimately concluded that the second amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation” (id. at 592); that “central to” this right is “the inherent right of self-defense”(id. at 628); that “the home” is “where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute” (id. at 628); and that, “above all other interests,” the second amendment elevates “the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home” (id. at 635). Based on this understanding, the Court held that a District of Columbia law banning handgun possession in the home violated the second amendment. Id. at 635.
Issues addressed by the majority
The core holding in D.C. v. Heller is that the Second Amendment is an individual right intimately tied to the natural right of self-defense.
The Scalia majority invokes much historical material to support its finding that the right to keep and bear arms belongs to individuals; more precisely, Scalia asserts in the Court’s opinion that the “people” to whom the Second Amendment right is accorded are the same “people” who enjoy First and Fourth Amendment protection: “‘The Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical meaning.’ United States v. Sprague, 282 U. S. 716, 731 (1931); see also Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 188 (1824). Normal meaning may of course include an idiomatic meaning, but it excludes secret or technical meanings….”
With that finding as anchor, the Court ruled a total ban on operative handguns in the home is unconstitutional, as the ban runs afoul of both the self-defense purpose of the Second Amendment – a purpose not previously articulated by the Court – and the “in common use at the time” prong of the Miller decision: since handguns are in common use, their ownership is protected.
The Court applies as remedy that “[a]ssuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.” The Court, additionally, hinted that other remedy might be available in the form of eliminating the license requirement for carry in the home, but that no such relief had been requested: “Respondent conceded at oral argument that he does not ‘have a problem with … licensing’ and that the District’s law is permissible so long as it is ‘not enforced in an arbitrary and capricious manner.’ Tr. of Oral Arg. 74–75. We therefore assume that petitioners’ issuance of a license will satisfy respondent’s prayer for relief and do not address the licensing requirement.”
In regard to the scope of the right, the Court wrote, in an obiter dictum, “Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
The Court also added dicta regarding the private ownership of machine guns. In doing so, it suggested the elevation of the “in common use at the time” prong of the Miller decision, which by itself protects handguns, over the first prong (protecting arms that “have some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”), which may not by itself protect machine guns: “It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service – M16 rifles and the like – may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home.”
The Court did not address which level of judicial review should be used by lower courts in deciding future cases claiming infringement of the right to keep and bear arms: “[S]ince this case represents this Court’s first in-depth examination of the Second Amendment, one should not expect it to clarify the entire field.” The Court states, “If all that was required to overcome the right to keep and bear arms was a rational basis, the Second Amendment would be redundant with the separate constitutional prohibitions on irrational laws, and would have no effect.” Also, regarding Justice Breyer’s proposal of a “judge-empowering ‘interest-balancing inquiry,'” the Court states, “We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding ‘interest-balancing’ approach.”
In a dissenting opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens stated that the court’s judgment was “a strained and unpersuasive reading” which overturned longstanding precedent, and that the court had “bestowed a dramatic upheaval in the law”. Stevens also stated that the amendment was notable for the “omission of any statement of purpose related to the right to use firearms for hunting or personal self-defense” which was present in the Declarations of Rights of Pennsylvania and Vermont.
The Stevens dissent seems to rest on four main points of disagreement: that the Founders would have made the individual right aspect of the Second Amendment express if that was what was intended; that the “militia” preamble and exact phrase “to keep and bear arms” demands the conclusion that the Second Amendment touches on state militia service only; that many lower courts’ later “collective-right” reading of the Miller decision constitutes stare decisis, which may only be overturned at great peril; and that the Court has not considered gun-control laws (e.g., the National Firearms Act) unconstitutional. The dissent concludes, “The Court would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons…. I could not possibly conclude that the Framers made such a choice.”
Justice Breyer filed a separate dissenting opinion, joined by the same dissenting Justices, which sought to demonstrate that, starting from the premise of an individual-rights view, the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and trigger lock requirement would nevertheless be permissible limitations on the right.
The Breyer dissent looks to early municipal fire-safety laws that forbade the storage of gunpowder (and in Boston the carrying of loaded arms into certain buildings), and on nuisance laws providing fines or loss of firearm for imprudent usage, as demonstrating the Second Amendment has been understood to have no impact on the regulation of civilian firearms. The dissent argues the public safety necessity of gun-control laws, quoting that “guns were responsible for 69 deaths in this country each day.'”
With these two supports, the Breyer dissent goes on to conclude, “there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas.” It proposes that firearms laws be reviewed by balancing the interests (i.e., “‘interest-balancing’ approach”) of Second Amendment protections against the government’s compelling interest of preventing crime.
The Breyer dissent also objected to the “common use” distinction used by the majority to distinguish handguns from machineguns: “But what sense does this approach make? According to the majority’s reasoning, if Congress and the States lift restrictions on the possession and use of machineguns, and people buy machineguns to protect their homes, the Court will have to reverse course and find that the Second Amendment does, in fact, protect the individual self-defense-related right to possess a machine-gun…There is no basis for believing that the Framers intended such circular reasoning.”
National Rifle Association
Attorney Alan Gura, in a 2003 filing, used the term “sham litigation” to describe the NRA’s attempts to have Parker (aka Heller) consolidated with its own case challenging the D.C. law. Gura also stated that “the NRA was adamant about not wanting the Supreme Court to hear the case”. These concerns were based on NRA lawyers’ assessment that the justices at the time the case was filed might reach an unfavorable decision.Cato Institute senior fellow Robert Levy, co-counsel to the Parker plaintiffs, has stated that the Parker plaintiffs “faced repeated attempts by the NRA to derail the litigation.” He also stated that “The N.R.A.’s interference in this process set us back and almost killed the case. It was a very acrimonious relationship.”
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive officer, confirmed the NRA’s misgivings. “There was a real dispute on our side among the constitutional scholars about whether there was a majority of justices on the Supreme Court who would support the Constitution as written,” Mr. LaPierre said. Both Levy and LaPierre said the NRA and Mr. Levy’s team were now on good terms.
Elaine McArdle wrote in the Harvard Law Bulletin: “If Parker is the long-awaited “clean” case, one reason may be that proponents of the individual-rights view of the Second Amendment – including the National Rifle Association, which filed an amicus brief in the case – have learned from earlier defeats, and crafted strategies to maximize the chances of Supreme Court review.” The NRA did eventually support the litigation by filing an amicus brief with the Court arguing that the plaintiffs in Parker had standing to sue and that the D.C. ban was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.
Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, had indicated support of federal legislation which would repeal the D.C. gun ban. Opponents of the legislation argued that this would have rendered the Parker case moot, and would have effectively eliminated the possibility that the case would be heard by the Supreme Court.
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the NRA filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago over its handgun ban, followed the next day by a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco over its ban of handguns in public housing.
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign, suggested to D.C. before the Court granted certiorari that it modify its gun laws rather than appeal to the Supreme Court. Helmke has written that if the Supreme Court upholds the Circuit court ruling, it “could lead to all current and proposed firearms laws being called into question.”
After the ruling, Paul Helmke stated that, “the classic ‘slippery slope’ argument”, “that even modest gun control would lead down the path to a complete ban on gun ownership”, “is now gone.” Helmke added that, “The Court also rejected the absolutist misreading of the Second Amendment that some use to argue ‘any gun, any time for anyone,’ which many politicians have used as an excuse to do nothing about the scourge of gun violence in our country and to block passage of common sense gun laws.”
To the lower court rulings
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Various experts expressed opinions on the D.C. Circuit’s decision.
Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe contended that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, and predicted that if Parker is reviewed by the Supreme Court “there’s a really quite decent chance that it will be affirmed.” However, Professor Tribe has also argued that the District’s ban on one class of weapons does not violate the Second Amendment even under an individual rights view.
Erwin Chemerinsky, then of Duke Law School and now dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, argued that the District of Columbia’s handgun laws, even assuming an “individual rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment, could be justified as reasonable regulations and thus upheld as constitutional. Professor Chemerinsky believes that the regulation of guns should be analyzed in the same way “as other regulation of property under modern constitutional law” and “be allowed so long as it is rationally related to achieving a legitimate government purpose.” However, the dicta in Heller suggests that applying a mere rational basis analysis is an incorrect reading of the Constitution and would, in fact, defeat the entire purpose of the Second Amendment.
To the Supreme Court rulings
Cato Institute senior fellow Robert Levy, co-counsel to the Parker plaintiffs, agreed with the court’s ruling but describes that his interpretation of the Second Amendment would not preclude all governmental regulation of private ownership of weapons:
Even the NRA concedes that you can’t have mad men running around with weapons of mass destruction. So there are some restrictions that are permissible and it will be the task of the legislature and the courts to ferret all of that out and draw the lines. I am sure, though, that outright bans on handguns like they have in D.C. won’t be permitted. That is not a reasonable restriction under anybody’s characterization. It is not a restriction, it’s a prohibition.
Clark Neily, an attorney for Dick Heller in this case, has said regarding Heller:
America went over 200 years without knowing whether a key provision of the Bill of Rights actually meant anything. We came within one vote of being told that it did not, notwithstanding what amounts to a national consensus that the Second Amendment means what it says: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Taking rights seriously, including rights we might not favor personally, is good medicine for the body politic, and Heller was an excellent dose.
Richard Posner, judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, compares Heller to Roe v. Wade, stating that it created a federal constitutional right that did not previously exist, and he asserts that the originalist method – to which Justice Antonin Scalia claimed to adhere – would have yielded the opposite result of the majority opinion.
The text of the amendment, whether viewed alone or in light of the concerns that actuated its adoption, creates no right to the private possession of guns for hunting or other sport, or for the defense of person or property. It is doubtful that the amendment could even be thought to require that members of state militias be allowed to keep weapons in their homes, since that would reduce the militias’ effectiveness. Suppose part of a state’s militia was engaged in combat and needed additional weaponry. Would the militia’s commander have to collect the weapons from the homes of militiamen who had not been mobilized, as opposed to obtaining them from a storage facility? Since the purpose of the Second Amendment, judging from its language and background, was to assure the effectiveness of state militias, an interpretation that undermined their effectiveness by preventing states from making efficient arrangements for the storage and distribution of military weapons would not make sense.
J. Harvie Wilkinson III, chief judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, consents to Posner’s analysis, stating that Heller “encourages Americans to do what conservative jurists warned for years they should not do: bypass the ballot and seek to press their political agenda in the courts.”
Heller thus represents the worst of missed opportunities—the chance to ground conservative jurisprudence in enduring and consistent principles of restraint. The Constitution expresses the need for judicial restraint in many different ways—separation of powers, federalism, and the grant of life tenure to unelected judges among them. It is an irony that Heller would in the name of originalism abandon insights so central to the Framers’ designs.
Alan Gura, Lead Counsel for Respondent in Heller rejects Wilkinson’s criticism, stating that “Rather, the Court affirmed the Second Amendment’s original public meaning, as confirmed by its plain text. Having determined the Amendment’s meaning, the Court showed the proper level of deference to the D.C. City Council’s outright repudiation of the constitutional text: none.”
Post ruling impacts
Since the June 2008 ruling, over 80 different cases have been heard in lower federal courts on the constitutionality of a wide variety of gun control laws. These courts have heard lawsuits in regard to bans of firearm possession by felons, drug addicts, illegal aliens, and individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors. Also, cases have been heard on the constitutionality of laws prohibiting certain types of weapons, such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and/or specific types of weapons attachments. In addition, courts have heard challenges to laws barring guns in post offices and near schools and laws outlawing “straw” purchases, carrying of concealed weapons, types of ammunition and possession of unregistered firearms.
The courts have upheld most of these laws as being constitutional. The basis for the lower court rulings is the paragraph near the end of the Heller ruling that states:
Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions on the commercial sale of arms.
Consistently since the Heller ruling, the lower federal courts have ruled that almost all gun control measures as presently legislated are lawful and that according to UCLA professor of constitutional law Adam Winkler: “What gun rights advocates are discovering is that the vast majority of gun control laws fit within these categories.”
Robert Levy, the executive director of the Cato Institute who funded the Heller litigation has commented on this passage describing constitutionally acceptable forms of prohibitions of firearms: “I would have preferred that that not have been there,” and that this paragraph in Scalia’s opinion “created more confusion than light.”
Similar to the lifting of gun bans mentioned previously in the settlements of lawsuits filed post-Heller, in US v. Arzberger, also decided post-Heller, it was noted:
To the extent, then, that the Second Amendment creates an individual right to possess a firearm unrelated to any military purpose, it also establishes a protectible liberty interest. And, although the Supreme Court has indicated that this privilege may be withdrawn from some groups of persons such as convicted felons, there is no basis for categorically depriving persons who are merely accused of certain crimes of the right to legal possession of a firearm.
District of Columbia
The D.C. government indicated it would continue to use zoning ordinances to prevent firearms dealers from operating and selling to citizens residing in the District, meaning it would continue to be difficult for residents to legally purchase guns in the District. Additionally, the District enacted new firearms restrictions in an effort to cure the constitutional defects in the ordinance that the Supreme Court had identified in Heller. The new provisions were: (1) the firearms registration procedures; (2) the prohibition on assault weapons; and (3) the prohibition on large capacity ammunition feeding devices. In response, Dick Heller challenged these new restrictions filing a civil suit named Heller v. District of Columbia (Civil Action No. 08-1289 (RMU), No. 23., 25) where he requested a summary judgment to vacate the new prohibitions. On March 26, 2010, the D.C. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina denied Dick Heller’s request and granted the cross motion, stating that the court “concludes that the regulatory provisions that the plaintiffs challenge permissibly regulate the exercise of the core Second Amendment right to use arms for the purpose of self-defense in the home. “
Dick Heller’s application to register his semi-automatic pistol was rejected because the gun was a bottom-loading weapon, and according to the District’s interpretation, all bottom-loading guns, including magazine-fed non-assault-style rifles, are outlawed because they are grouped with machine guns.Revolvers will likely not fall under such a ban.
On December 16, 2008 the D.C. Council unanimously passed the Firearms Registration Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 which addresses the issues raised in the Heller Supreme Court decision, and also puts in place a number of registration requirements to update and strengthen the District’s gun laws.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority provided Second Amendment protection for commonly used and popular handguns but not for atypical arms or arms used for unlawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns. Scalia stated: “Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.” “We think that Miller’s “ordinary military equipment” language must be read in tandem with what comes after: “[O]rdinarily when called for [militia] service [able-bodied] men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179.” “We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.” “It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service – M-16 rifles and the like – may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty.”
On July 24, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled, in Palmer v. District of Columbia, that the District’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns is unconstitutional. In its decision, the Court stated: “[ . . . ] the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.”
Mayor of New York CityMichael Bloomberg said that “all of the laws on the books in New York State and New York City” would be allowed by the ruling as “reasonable regulation.” Robert Levy has stated that the current New York City gun laws are “not much different” from the D.C. ban that has been overturned. The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates have not ruled out suing New York City, especially over the definition of “reasonable regulation”.
Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge James Francis has said that, prior to Heller, it would not have been considered unreasonable to require a defendant to surrender a firearm as a condition of pretrial release. Specifically, according to Judge Francis:
This all changed, with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller; 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008), where the court changed the course of Second Amendment jurisprudence by creating what he said was a “protectible liberty interest” in the possession of firearms. Thus, in the absence of an individualized determination at a bail hearing, requiring the defendant to give up any firearms violates due process.
Maloney v. Rice (a.k.a. Maloney v. Cuomo and Maloney v. Spitzer), 554 F.3d 56 (2d. Cir. 2009) originally held that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to the states in the Second Circuit. The case involved a state ban on Nunchaku sticks (a martial arts weapon) in New York. In a memorandum opinion dated June 29, 2010, the Supreme Court vacated the Second Circuit decision in Maloney and remanded for further consideration in light of the holding in McDonald v. Chicago that the Second Amendment does apply to the states. The Second Circuit has remanded the case to the trial court.
The NRA has filed five related lawsuits since the Heller decision. In four Illinois lawsuits, the NRA sought to have the Second Amendment incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment, causing the Second Amendment to apply to state and local jurisdictions and not just to the federal government. Three Illinois lawsuits have been negotiated and settled out of court involving agreements that repeal gun ban ordinances and did not result in incorporation of the Second Amendment to state and local jurisdictions. The fourth NRA lawsuit against Chicago was rejected. The NRA appealed the case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. On June 2, 2009, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision, based on the theory that Heller applied only to the Federal Government (including the District of Columbia), and not to states or their subordinate jurisdictions. This opinion directly conflicts with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’s earlier decision, holding that Heller applies to states as well.
On June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit‘s decision in McDonald v. Chicago and remanded it back to Seventh Circuit to resolve conflicts between certain Chicagogun restrictions and the Second Amendment. Chicago’s handgun law was likened to the D.C. handgun ban by Justice Breyer.
Similarly, three Illinois municipalities with gun control measures on the books that previously had banned all handguns have rescinded their handgun bans. These cities were Morton Grove, Illinois,Wilmette, another Illinois village, and Evanston, Illinois which enacted a partial repeal of its handgun ban.
In Ezell v. Chicago, decided July 6, 2011, the Seventh Circuit reversed a district court decision that the post-McDonald measures adopted by the City of Chicago were constitutional. The Chicago law required firearms training in a shooting range in order to obtain a gun permit, but also banned shooting ranges within the City of Chicago. The City had argued that applicants could obtain their training at gun ranges in the suburbs. The opinion noted that Chicago could not infringe Second Amendment rights on the grounds that they could be exercised elsewhere, any more than it could infringe the right to freedom of speech on the grounds that citizens could speak elsewhere.
On January 14, 2009, in Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority, the San Francisco Housing Authority reached a settlement out of court with the NRA, which allows residents to possess legal firearms within a SFHA apartment building. The San Francisco lawsuit resulted in the elimination of the gun ban from the SF Housing Authority residential lease terms. Tim Larsen speaking for the Housing Authority said that they never intended to enforce its 2005 housing lease gun ban against law-abiding gun owners and have never done so.
On February 13, 2014, in Peruta v. San Diego, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided that the San Diego policy to disallow both concealed carry, and the State of California law that disallowsopen carry anywhere in the state, were not acceptable under Supreme Court precedent in Heller and McDonald. A “responsible, law-abiding citizen has a right under the Second Amendment to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.” More specifically, “the Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home.”(italics in original) … and “carrying weapons in public for the lawful purpose of self defense is a central component of the right to bear arms.” The case was remanded to the district court because “San Diego County’s ‘good cause’ permitting requirement impermissibly infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense.”
On January 10, 2014, in Morris v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the District Court struck down a Corps of Engineers regulation barring possession of loaded guns in recreation areas surrounding Corps dams. The court held that tents are akin to homes, and under Heller, Second Amendment rights are protected.
|This article’s factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (September 2011)|
Initial reaction has deemed the Heller ruling to be of great significance, though it remains too soon to tell what the long-term effects may be.Sanford Levinson has written that he is inclined to believe that the Hellerdecision will be relatively insignificant to the practice of law in the long run but that it will have significance to other groups interested in cultural literacy and constitutional designers.
In 2009, both Levinson and Mark Tushnet speculated that it is quite unlikely that the case would be studied as part of casebooks of future law schools. As was predicted, a large surge of court cases was seen in lower federal courts in the aftermath of the 2008 ruling. As of March 2009, over 80 cases had been filed seeking to overturn existing gun laws.[needs update]
The decision in McDonald v. Chicago, which was brought in response to Heller and decided in 2010, did invalidate much of Chicago’s gun purchase and registration laws, and has called into question many other state and local laws restricting purchase, possession and carry of firearms.
|Wikinews has related news:US Supreme Court rules DC gun ban unconstitutional|
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- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 554
- List of United States Supreme Court cases
- Firearm case law in the United States
- Gun politics in the United States
- Incorporation (Bill of Rights)#Amendment II
- Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Story 2: Hillary Clinton Is Nurse Ratched! — Videos
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (film)
|One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Miloš Forman|
|Produced by||Saul Zaentz
|Screenplay by||Lawrence Hauben
|Based on||One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
by Ken Kesey
|Music by||Jack Nitzsche|
|Edited by||Richard Chew
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$109 million|
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a 1975 American comedy-drama film directed by Miloš Forman, based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. The film stars Jack Nicholson and features a supporting cast of Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Will Sampson, and Brad Dourif.
Considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is No. 33 on the American Film Institute‘s 100 Years… 100 Movies list. The film was the second to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay) following It Happened One Nightin 1934, an accomplishment not repeated until 1991 by The Silence of the Lambs. It also won numerous Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards.
In 1963, Oregon, recidivist criminal Randle McMurphy is moved to a mental institution after serving a short sentence on a prison farm after raping a teenager. Though not actually mentally ill, McMurphy hopes to avoid hard labour and serve the rest of his sentence in a relaxed environment. Upon arriving at the hospital, he finds the ward run by the steely, strict Nurse Ratched, who subtly suppresses the actions of her patients through a passive-aggressive routine, intimidating the patients.
The other patients include anxious, stuttering Billy Bibbit; Charlie Cheswick, who is prone to childish tantrums; delusional Martini; the well-educated, paranoid Dale Harding; belligerent Max Taber; epileptic Jim Sefelt; and “Chief” Bromden, a tall Native American believed to be deaf and mute. Ratched soon sees McMurphy’s lively, rebellious presence to be a threat to her authority, confiscating the patients’ cigarettes and rationing them. During his time in the ward, McMurphy gets into a battle of wits with Ratched. He steals a hospital bus, escaping with several patients to go on a fishing trip, encouraging his friends to become more self-confident.
McMurphy learns his sentence may become indefinite, and he makes plans to escape, exhorting Chief to throw a hydrotherapy cart through a window. He, Chief, and Cheswick get into a fight with the orderlies after the latter becomes agitated over his stolen cigarettes. Ratched sends them to the “shock shop”, and McMurphy discovers Chief can actually speak, feigning illness to avoid engaging with anyone. After being subjected to electroconvulsive therapy, McMurphy returns to the ward pretending to have brain damage, but reveals the treatment has charged him up even more. McMurphy and Chief make plans to escape, but decide to throw a secret Christmas party for their friends after Ratched leaves for the night.
McMurphy sneaks two women, Candy and Rose, into the ward and bribes the night guard. After a night of partying, McMurphy and Chief prepare to escape, inviting Billy to come with them. He refuses, not ready to leave the hospital. McMurphy instead convinces him to have sex with Candy. Ratched arrives in the morning to find the ward in disarray and most of the patients unconscious. She discovers Billy and Candy together, the former now free of his stutter, until Ratched threatens to inform his mother about his escapade. Billy is overwhelmed with fear and locks himself in the doctor’s office and commits suicide. The enraged McMurphy strangles Ratched, before being knocked out by an orderly.
Ratched comes back with a neck brace and a scratchy voice. Rumours spread that McMurphy escaped rather than be taken “upstairs”. Later that night, Chief sees McMurphy being returned to his bed. He discovers McMurphy has lobotomy scars on his forehead, and smothers his friend with a pillow. Chief finally throws the hydrotherapy cart through the window and escapes into the night, cheered on by the men.
- Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy
- Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched
- Will Sampson as “Chief” Bromden
- William Redfield as Dale Harding
- Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit
- Sydney Lassick as Charlie Cheswick
- Christopher Lloyd as Max Taber
- Danny DeVito as Martini
- Dean Brooks as Dr. John Spivey
- William Duell as Jim Sefelt
- Vincent Schiavelli as Bruce Frederickson
- Delos V. Smith as Scanlon
- Michael Berryman as Ellis
- Nathan George as Attendant Washington
- Lan Fendors as Nurse Itsu
- Mimi Sarkisian as Nurse Pilbow
- Marya Small as Candy
- Scatman Crothers as Orderly Turkle
- Louisa Moritz as Rose
- Christopher Campagna as Ruckly
- Peter Brocco as Col. Matterson
- Alonzo Brown as Miller
- Mwako Cumbuka as Warren
- Josip Elic as Bancini
- Ken Kenny as Beans Garfield
- Mel Lambert as Harbor Master
- Kay Lee as Night Supervisor
- Dwight Marfield as Ellsworth
- Phil Roth as Woolsey
- Tin Welch as Ruckley
- Aurore Clément as Lady on Pier
Filming began in January 1975 and concluded approximately three months later, and was shot on location in Salem, Oregon and the surrounding area, as well as on the Oregon coast. It was also shot at Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, which was also the setting of the novel.
Haskell Wexler was fired as cinematographer and replaced by Bill Butler. Wexler believed his dismissal was due to his concurrent work on the documentary Underground, in which the radical terrorist group The Weather Underground were being interviewed while hiding from the law. However, Miloš Forman said he had terminated Wexler over mere artistic differences. Both Wexler and Butler received Academy Awardnominations for Best Cinematography for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, though Wexler said there was “only about a minute or two minutes in that film I didn’t shoot.”
According to Butler, Jack Nicholson refused to speak to Forman: “…[Jack] never talked to Milos at all, he only talked to me.”
The film was met with overwhelming critical acclaim; Roger Ebert said “Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a film so good in so many of its parts that there’s a temptation to forgive it when it goes wrong. But it does go wrong, insisting on making larger points than its story really should carry, so that at the end, the human qualities of the characters get lost in the significance of it all. And yet there are those moments of brilliance.” Ebert would later put the film on his “Great Movies” list. A.D. Murphy of Variety wrote a mixed review as well, as did Vincent Canby: writing in The New York Times, Canby called the film “a comedy that can’t quite support its tragic conclusion, which is too schematic to be honestly moving, but it is acted with such a sense of life that one responds to its demonstration of humanity if not to its programmed metaphors.”
The film opens with original music by composer Jack Nitzsche, featuring an eerie bowed saw (performed by Robert Armstrong) and wine glasses. Commenting on the score, reviewer Steven McDonald has said, “The edgy nature of the film extends into the score, giving it a profoundly disturbing feel at times — even when it appears to be relatively normal. The music has a tendency to always be a little off-kilter, and from time to time it tilts completely over into a strange little world of its own …”
The film went on to win the “Big Five” Academy Awards at the 48th Oscar ceremony. These include the Best Actor for Jack Nicholson, Best Actress for Louise Fletcher, Best Direction for Forman, Best Picture, andBest Adapted Screenplay for Laurence Hauben and Bo Goldman. The film currently has a 95% “Certified Fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 8.9/10. Its consensus states “The onscreen battle between Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher serves as a personal microcosm of the culture wars of the 1970s — and testament to the director’s vision that the film retains its power more than three decades later.”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is considered to be one of the greatest American films. Ken Kesey participated in the early stages of script development, but withdrew after creative differences with the producers over casting and narrative point of view; ultimately he filed suit against the production and won a settlement. Kesey himself claimed never to have seen the movie, but said he disliked what he knew of it, a fact confirmed by Chuck Palahniuk who wrote, “The first time I heard this story, it was through the movie starring Jack Nicholson. A movie that Kesey once told me he disliked.”
Awards and honors
- AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies — #20
- AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains:
- Nurse Ratched — #5 Villain
- Randle Patrick McMurphy — Nominated Hero
- AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Cheers — #17
- AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) — #33
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (play)
- Mental illness in film
- List of Academy Award records
- White savior narrative in film
- Townsend, Sylvia (19 December 2014). “Haskell Wexler and the Making of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest'”. Retrieved 13 April2015.
- Chew was listed as “supervising editor” in the film’s credits, but was included in the nomination for an editing Academy Award.
- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Box Office Information”.Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the American Film Institute
- Story Notes for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- “Hollywood’s Love Affair with Oregon Coast Continues”. Retrieved15 June 2015.
- Oregon State Hospital – A documentary film (Mental Health Association of Portland)
- Anderson, John. “Haskell Wexler, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer, Dies at 93.” The New York Times, December 27, 2015.
- Suntimes.com – Roger Ebert review, Chicago Sun-Times, January 1, 1975
- Suntimes.com – Roger Ebert review, Chicago Sun-Times, February 2, 2003.
- Variety.com – A.D. Murphy, Variety, November 7, 1975
- Canby, Vincent (November 28, 1975). “Critic’s Pick: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. The New York Times.
- AllMusic: Review by Steven McDonald
- “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes”. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- Carnes, Mark Christopher, Paul R. Betz, et al. (1999). American National Biography, Volume 26. New York: Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 0-19-522202-4. p. 312,
- Carnes, p. 312
- Foreword of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Copyright 2007 by Chuck Palahniuk. Available in the 2007 Edition published by Penguin Books
- “U.S. National Film Registry — Titles”. Retrieved September 2,2016.
- AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (film).|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest|
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Internet Movie Database
- One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at the TCM Movie Database
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at Rotten Tomatoes
Could Hillary’s smile cost her the election? Twitter mocks Clinton’s ‘creepy grandma’ grin as she smirks her way through presidential debate
- Viewers were distracted by Clinton’s stubborn smile during the debate
- They took to Twitter in their droves to describe it as ‘creepy’ and ‘scary’
- Some likened her to a ‘grandma’ while others said it was proof she is ‘evil’
- Her opponent’s constant sniffing at last debate sent viewers into a frenzy
- See more of the latest U.S. election news from the final presidential debate
With her opponent dogged by accusations of sexual assault, Hillary Clinton had strong odds as she entered the third presidential debate on Wednesday.
Only one thing seemed to threaten her chances of victory: her smile.
The Democratic candidate faced a flood of insults as she took to the stage at the University of Las Vegas, with many viewers confessing they were ‘creeped out’ by her stubborn grin.
Hundreds took to Twitter to describe her smile as ‘scary’ and ‘creepy’.
Hillary Clinton’s unrelenting smile at Wednesday’s presidential debate made for uncomfortable viewing for some voters
Others questioned why, when being slammed with insults from her opponent, her expression did not drop.
‘Hillary Clinton’s smile is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,’ said one observer.
‘When Hillary smiles she looks like an evil snake,’ another commented.
‘What to do when you don’t have a response? Smile like a chipmunk,’ remarked another.
‘Whoever told Hillary Clinton to smile less since the first debate gave great advice,’ mused a different viewer.
Others, ever-so-slightly more charmed by her cheerful demeanor, likened her to a happy grandmother.
Her glee remained written all over her face as Trump continued to slate her, much to viewers’ confusion
Twitter users were quick to mock her expression as they watched the debate on Wednesday
Clinton’s happy expression became a talking point at earlier debates. It continued to peak viewers’ interests at her final showdown with Trump on Wednesday (above)
‘Hillary Clinton is so cute it’s something about her I just want her to tuck me in and give me a kiss with her coffee breath,’ one commented.
It was not the first time her facial expression sparked interest among voters.
After the first presidential debate on September 26, political commentators shared some free advice with the candidate online.
‘Who told Hillary Clinton to keep smiling like she’s at her granddaughter’s birthday party?’ said David Frum, senior editor of The Atlantic, at the time.
The discussion had the same hallmarks of bizarre criticisms made earlier this month about Donald Trump’s incessant sniffing.
Viewers were distracted throughout the second presidential debate by the Republican candidate’s runny nose, complaining in their droves about it online.
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