-By Warner Todd Huston
Union bigwigs everywhere have railed at the Citizens United case ever since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. They call it evil, the end of democracy, and unfair. But did you know that the AFL-CIO actually filed a brief with the court essentially hoping the court would uphold the most basic aspect of the case that Citizens United was making?
If you are unaware of the case, it was Citizens United that gave rise to the political Super PAC, those organizations not officially connected to any particular candidate now allowed to spend big money on campaign advertisements and advocacy.
Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast.
The left really, really hates this case. But, despite all the whining they’ve done the court has declined to revisit the case in each of the two years since it first handed down its decision.
But, whining or no, the AFL-CIO actually supported the case when it was originally on the Supreme Court’s docket. Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner explains.
The AFL-CIO filed an amicus brief in the case “in support of the Appellant” — that is, in support of Citizens United, the conservative media group that had been targeted by the Federal Elections Commission.
In its brief, the union coalition argued that campaign spending laws should be overturned on free-speech grounds: “[L]abor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, and corporations, including Citizens United, remain subject to an unworkable censorship regime.”
They may not want to advertise this fact, but they agreed with the main argument that CU was making.
Of course, as Higgins notes, the union had a few other ideas on how the court should treat the case essentially demanding that the court give the unions special consideration, but the fact is even the AFL-CIO understood that money in politics is free speech.
Just an interesting little tidbit on the left’s most hated SCOTUS decision.
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