The Future of US Elections and the Environment after Citizens United? Look at Texas and Its Politicized Agencies

by Victor Flatt | January 25, 2010

The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United was not entirely unexpected, but it is appropriately seen as a breathtaking change in the way elections work in this country. The Supreme Court struck down federal campaign finance rules that limit corporate (and general organizational) spending on campaign finance ads to help or defeat candidates.

What can we expect now? One need look no further than Texas, which has no campaign restrictions in any statewide races. In Texas, large corporations and individuals have given millions of dollars to candidates and ads supporting them in one election cycle.

While this can be hugely influential on state legislation, at least legislation remains ostensibly open and in the public eye. Texas does have laws that may be seen as more favorable to corporations (such as low limits on medical malpractice compensation and a conservative tax structure), but all in all, the Texas legislative code doesn’t look all that different from other states. That's in part because many laws important to progressives, such as environmental laws, are mandated by the federal-state joint programs such as the Clean Air Act. But this doesn’t mean that unlimited contributions don’t affect the state of the environment.

So what's the hidden danger from Citizens United? The influence on the administrative state. Even with laws on the books, administrative agencies may choose to not act on enforcement or may only impose nominal penalties on violations, and this is what we have ...

Of the Corporations, By the Corporations, For the Corporations? The Meaning of the Citizens United Decision

by Daniel Farber | January 21, 2010
Today’s decision in Citizens United was something of a foregone conclusion. Still, it was a bit breathtaking. The Court was obviously poised to strike down the latest Congressional restrictions on corporate political expenditures. But the Court went further and struck down even restrictions that had been upheld thirty years ago. Seldom has a majority been so eager to reach out, address a question that wasn’t presented by the parties and overrule a bevy of prior decisions. The term “judicial activism” ...

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