Here's how the Supreme Court is 'keeping foreign money' out of US politics — even after Citizens United: law professor
Although the MAGA movement has promoted intense hyper-nationalism and former President Donald Trump once chastised former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, the pro-Trump Great America PAC was fined by the Federal Election Commission earlier this month for soliciting foreign contributions. And according to Talking Points Memo's Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, the U.S. Supreme Court "appears" to be on the side of those who want to keep foreign money out of U.S. politics.
"Massachusetts is trying to limit foreign corporate political spending in is its elections through new legislation, and the U.S. Supreme Court, it appears, is actually on their side," Torres-Spelliscy, a law professor at Stetson University, reports. "This may come as a surprise: The Roberts Court has repeatedly opened the doors to more money in politics. And Justice (Samuel) Alito famously disagreed with President (Barack) Obama who, during the 2010 state of the union, scolded the justices to their face about their ruling in Citizens United."
Obama, a major critic of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, said, "I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests —or worse, by foreign entities."
Torres-Spelliscy explains, "Foreign nationals, the human kind, have long been barred from spending in U.S. elections under 52 U.S.C. § 30121. That is why election law experts had their hair on fire about the question of Russian interference (in) the 2016 election. And even the Roberts Supreme Court, in a case called Bluman v. FEC, upheld the constitutionality of the ban on foreign nationals' spending money in American elections. But the law has been as clear as mud between 2010's Citizens United and 2020's Open Society II about whether that foreign ban naturally applied to foreign corporations as well as humans."
The reporter adds, "In two cases, the State of California and the FEC took the position that the foreign ban did apply to foreign corporations."
Torres-Spelliscy elaborates on why the U.S. Supreme Court's 2020 ruling in Agency For International Development v. Alliance For Open Society International is important.
According to Torres-Spelliscy, "These state and local efforts to keep foreign money out have generated criticism that they would violate the First Amendment rights of corporations under Citizens United to spend money in politics. That's why the Open Society II case is so important: it indicates that foreign corporations cannot raise First Amendment objections to U.S. laws or policies. Thus, a law that bans foreign corporations from spending in U.S. elections cannot be challenged by a foreign corporation as a violation of free speech. According to Open Society II, foreign corporations have no such rights to assert. This means reforms like those in St. Petersburg, Washington State and pending in Massachusetts are on firmer constitutional ground."
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