Campaign Finance Decision Mangles First Amendment, Tramples States’ Ability to Combat Government Corruption

CAC Chief Counsel Elizabeth Wydra: “The Court seems intent on striking down any campaign finance system that works in the real world.”

Washington, DC – On news that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in AZ Free Enterprise Club, McComish v. Bennett, Constitutional Accountability Center — which filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the people of Arizona — released the following statement:

CAC Chief Counsel Elizabeth Wydra said, “Today the Supreme Court continued an assault on campaign finance laws begun in earnest last Term, with the Court’s 5-4 ruling in Citizens United. As in Citizens United, the Court today narrowly defined corruption in a manner that would have been foreign to the views of the Framers of our Constitution. As Justice Kagan noted in her dissent — quoting James Madison — today’s decision ‘invalidates Arizonans’ efforts to ensure that in their State, ‘[t]he people… possess the absolute sovereignty.’” Wydra continued, “While both Citizens United and McComish nominally allow campaign finance reform efforts to continue, the Court seems intent on striking down any campaign finance system that works in the real world.”

CAC President Doug Kendall added, “The Court turns the First Amendment on its head by finding a program that actually subsidizes speech is, somehow, an unacceptable restriction on speech. And it ignores the wisdom of the Framers by dismissing the entirely valid concerns of Arizona’s people in combating corruption.”

CAC filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case on behalf of four of the nation’s preeminent experts on America’s constitutional democracy — Professors Bruce Ackerman of Yale University, Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University, Zephyr Teachout of Fordham University, and Adam Winkler of UCLA.



CAC’s brief in support of the people of Arizona:

“Citizens United and Corporate Personhood: The Problem Isn’t the Constitution, It’s the Court,” Elizabeth Wydra, January 25, 2011:


Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.