A move by the United States Supreme Court to extend the Citizens United ruling to the states doesn’t surprise Democratic United States Senate candidate Bob Kerrey.
Kerrey, a vocal critic of Citizens United, says the ruling in a Montana case shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
“I think it was a logical extension of a very bad decision,” according to Kerrey.
The Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations couldn’t be limited in what they spend on political campaigns. The 5-4 decision, reached in 2010, has become a lightning rod during political discourse. At the end of its last session, the court ruled again 5-to-4 in a Montana case to extend the ruling to the states, striking down restrictions Montana imposed on corporate spending on campaigns.
Two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, had called for a re-examination of Citizens United.
The ruling unleashed a flood of campaign spending as corporations and unions fueled more than $130 million to pay for broadcast commercials in the presidential and congressional campaigns. Wealthy individuals also took advantage of the ruling to pump millions into advertising for their favorite candidate.
Kerrey has harshly criticized Citizens United and seems resigned to its extension to the states.
“I’m unsurprised by it,” Kerrey says. “I’m unsurprised by that decision. They were very firm in the original language of Citizens United.”
The Citizens United ruling has played a role in Nebraska campaigns, especially in the United States Senate race between Kerrey and Republican Deb Fischer, a state senator from Valentine. Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s political adviser, has funneled tens of thousands of dollars through his political action committee, American Crossroads, in negative ads against Kerrey. David and Charles Koch of Wichita, Kansas have attacked Kerrey through their Americans for Prosperity political action committee.
Pete Ricketts of Omaha, a former Republican U.S. Senate candidate and a member of the Ameritrade Board of Directors, sponsored an ad campaign in the Senate Republican primary that took direct aim at Attorney General Jon Bruning and some contend handed the Republican nomination to Fischer.
Kerrey advocates making changes to the Constitution to overturn Citizens United.
“I don’t think until we modify Article One of the Constitution that we’re going to get the Congress that the American people both deserve and want,” Kerrey says. “And Citizens United is just a part of that, but it’s an important part of it.”
According to the Kerrey campaign, Kerrey would work for changes to organize Congress in a non-partisan fashion, such as in the Unicameral. He favors limiting United States Senators to two terms and making the changes necessary to allow campaign spending to be limited.