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Justice Stevens: Court May Have Second Thoughts About Citizens United

Adam Lioz

Speaking in Arkansas last night shortly after President Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens addressed the controversial Citizens United decision.

Stevens dissented vigorously in the case, so his continued critique is not surprising. More significant is his suggestion that other justices may be open to revisiting some of the ruling. The AP reports that Stevens "expects the court has already had second thoughts about parts of its controversial Citizens United ruling that eased restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns."

I certainly hope Justice Stevens is correct. And, a critical Montana case has given the Court a chance to revisit some of its flawed assumptions this year. The Montana Supreme Court upheld a century-old state law curbing direct corporate spending in Montana elections, citing the state's specific history of political corruption at the hands of large corporate mining interests.

The case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Demos recently collaborated with former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, law professor James Sample, and Arnold & Porter LLP to file an amicus brief urging the Court to let Montana's law stand, or at least give the case a full, fair hearing before it rules.

The Justices are set to discuss the case in a private conference in mid-June, so stay tuned.