Remember Citizens United v. the FEC? Well, it’s hard to imagine myself saying this but: it could have gotten even worse, and it didn’t. So while it’s a very short sigh of relief, it’s still a relief. NPR’s Nina Totenberg, questioned Public Citizen lawyer Scott Nelson about a much talked about Nevada case that was appealed to and reviewed by the Supreme Court. Nelson said of the case,
It’s in some ways seemingly part of a coordinated strategy to use the First Amendment to dismantle protections against corruption in government
“The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a broad state ethics law, ruling that legislators have no personal, First Amendment right to vote on a measure. The decision reverses a Nevada state court ruling that would have undermined conflict-of-interest laws across the country.”
The case ruling that was reversed by the Supreme Court on Monday involved a city council member whose campaign manager was a paid consultant (paid to the ring of $10,000) to a casino developer whose contract the council member was giving a thumbs up or down vote on. When the council member got in trouble, he took it to court saying that voting was a “first amendment right” he was entitled to . . . (yeah, not joking here). AND, he won in Nevada (yeah, that explains a few things, right?).
Nelson applauded SCOTUS for their unanimous reversal of the Nevada decision.
Still, after a sigh of relief, Nelson and the rest of us at Public Citizen are expanding our lungs for another deep breath, as the fight must continue until we get a constitutional amendment passed that will overturn the court’s terrible Citizens United v. FEC decision. What to me seems nothing short of a case of cognitive dissonance, Nelson had this to say of to Totenberg: ” . . . the court apparently sees a difference between campaign finance laws, [where] there is a majority that is very suspicious, and ethics laws, which seem backed by pretty much a unanimous court.”
To hear or read Totenberg’s full report please click here.