Former United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, 92, said during a Wednesday night speech that he’s convinced his former associates on the nation’s highest court will soon find it necessary to issue an opinion “that will create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion.”
President Obama said in his 2010 State of the Union address that if left unchanged, Citizens United could mean that foreign countries or corporations could also spend unlimited sums to influence the U.S. electorate — a claim that prompted a silent but obvious response from Justice Samuel Alito, who mouthed the words “not true” on camera. That reaction, Stevens said, led him to believe that soon the Supreme Court will no longer have a 5-4 majority support for the broad language of Citizens United.
“[In] due course it will be necessary for the Court to issue an opinion explicitly crafting an exception that will create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion,” he wrote. “For [Alito's] statement that it is ‘not true’ that foreign entities will be among the beneficiaries of Citizens United offers good reason to predict there will not be five votes for such a result when a case arises that requires the Court to address the issue in a full opinion.”
“I think it is likely that when the court begins to spell out which categories of non-voters should receive the same protections as the not-for-profit Citizens United advocacy group, it will not only exclude terrorist organizations and foreign agents, but also all corporations owned or controlled by non-citizens, and possibly even those in which non-citizens have a substantial interest,” he added. “Where that line will actually be drawn will depend on an exercise of judgment by the majority of members of the court, rather than on any proposition of law identified in the Citizens United majority opinion.”
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