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CALIFORNIA CORPORATE & SECURITIES LAW

California Legislature Calls Supreme Court Decision “A Serious And Direct Threat To Our Democracy”

The California legislature recently passed a joint resolution, AJR 22 (Wieckowski & Allen), that is harshly critical of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010).  In that decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Antonin G. Scalia, Samuel A. Alito, and Clarence Thomas, held that the government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether.

In AJR 22, the California legislature labels the majority’s decision as an “extreme conclusion” and claims that over the last 30 years a divided Supreme Court has “transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate democratically enacted reforms”.  Incongruously in light of the stridency of these statements, the legislature resolves that it “respectfully disagrees with the majority opinion and decision of the United States Supreme Court” and calls upon Congress to propose a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.

One of the principal co-authors of AJR 22, Assembly Member Michael Allen, previously introduced a bill, AB 2050, that would have banned political contributions by corporations to candidates for local and state offices.  That bill died in committee in April.

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