“Time for an ACLU Shift on Campaign Finance?”

Eliza Newlin Carney for TAP:

Now that Georgetown constitutional law professor David Cole has been named the American Civil Liberties Union’s next national legal director, his April article in The Atlantic on “How to Reverse Citizens United” delivers a second punch.

Cole’s article gives campaign-finance reform advocates a blueprint for how to overturn the Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 ruling to deregulate campaign spending, which has ushered in a flood of secret big money unseen since Watergate, and has fueled mounting public anger over political corruption.

Yet Cole’s new employer sided squarely with the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC, arguing as it has in a string of cases going all the way back to Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 that limits on political spending trample on the First Amendment. So what gives? Is the ACLU suddenly changing its campaign-finance position? Or has Cole had a change of heart?

Neither, says Cole, who told The American Prospect that both the Buckley ruling to ban individual spending limits, and the aspect of the Citizens United ruling that permits unlimited corporate political spending were essentially decided correctly. On both scores, Cole aligns himself with the ACLU.

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