Behind the scenes regarding Citizens United

May 14, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More

The New Yorker offers a detailed behind the scenes look of the final decision of Citizens United. In this article, Jeffrey Toobin credits Chief Justice John Roberts with the way the Court analyzed and ruled on the case:

Citizens United is a distinctive product of the Roberts Court. The decision followed a lengthy and bitter behind-the-scenes struggle among the Justices that produced both secret unpublished opinions and a rare reargument of a case. The case, too, reflects the aggressive conservative judicial activism of the Roberts Court. It was once liberals who were associated with using the courts to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government, but the current Court has matched contempt for Congress with a disdain for many of the Court’s own precedents. When the Court announced its final ruling on Citizens United, on January 21, 2010, the vote was five to four and the majority opinion was written by Anthony Kennedy. Above all, though, the result represented a triumph for Chief Justice Roberts. Even without writing the opinion, Roberts, more than anyone, shaped what the Court did. As American politics assumes its new form in the post-Citizens United era, the credit or the blame goes mostly to him.


Category: Campaign Finance Reform, Court Decisions

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Adam Herman says:

    This is a different story than from what I heard. What I had read was that Roberts wanted a narrow, near unanimous or absolutely unanimous ruling that Citizens United was entitled to run ads for their documentary on the theory that Congress had never intended to limit documentaries. The liberals balked on their end, and Kennedy, Thomas, and Scalia were unwilling to contemplate such a narrow decision on such a fundamental question. And I think they were right. If they’d issued a narrow ruling in favor of Citizens United, then they just would have been deluged with more cases.

    The government, as has been typical during this administration, made some really insane arguments that provoked a strong response from the justices. Especially the one about being allowed to ban books.

  2. Adam Herman says:

    Okay, now I’m confused. Toobin says that Kennedy was the one who initially wanted to go much farther, that Roberts had already written a narrower opinion. So how is Citizens United a product of John Roberts? Anthony Kennedy was the leader of that decision.

  3. Adam Herman says:

    This is one reason I support the Citizens United decision. It’s forcing campaigns to actually address the issues in a way they were able to avoid in the past.

    American Crossroads publishes an ad. The Obama team rebuts every point in the ad. American Crossroads rebuts the Obama team’s rebuttal. This is good stuff, the kind of debate the American people deserve, but were denied under the old system where only the political class got to decide what we were going to talk about.

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