Taking Stock of Citizens United:
How the Law Has (and Has Not) Changed Four Years Later
A Symposium at Stetson University College of Law
Co-Sponsored by Stetson Law Review, Corporate Reform Coalition and American Constitution Society
Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
8:15 - 8:45 a.m.
Welcoming Remarks by the Dean
Panel One: Quantifying the Problem of Money in Politics
9:15 - 10:30 a.m.
Citizens United opened a new avenue for corporations and unions to spend in politics by purchasing political ads. This ability to spend was added to older avenues of political activity such as corporate and union segregated funds (SSFs or PACs), lobbying and direct contributions in certain states. The question of what political spenders get in return for this largess remains an open one.
Jonathan Salant, Bloomberg - Moderator
John C. Coates IV, Harvard Law School
Dr. Michael Hadani, St. Mary’s College of California School of Economics and Business Administration
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Stetson University College of Law
10:30 - 10:45 a.m.
Panel Two: The Risk of Corruption Collides with Free Speech
10:45 - noon
From a Constitutional law perspective, the courts have long wrestled with the placing political spending into a single paradigm. On one hand, courts have recognized that running for political office is costly and fundraising implicates First Amendment concerns such as the freedom of speech and association. On the other hand, campaign spending can be a corrupting force in the democratic process. Layered on top of this is an impulse by the courts to treat different political spenders in distinct ways: state contractors, corporations, unions, nonprofits, political parties, PACs and individuals may find themselves subject to distinct legal rules in the same election.
Lyle Denniston, SCOTUS Blog - Moderator
Zephyr Teachout, Fordham University School of Law
Charlotte Garden, Seattle Law School
Ellen Podgor, Stetson University College of Law
Noon – 1:00 p.m.
1:00 - 1:50 p.m.
As Professor Lessig frames the issue, before Americans can tackle climate change, financial reform, education reform, there is a single issue that the United States must confront: we must change a central corruption at the root of the American political system — that politicians must raise vast amounts of money in order to have a chance in the general election. This makes them prone to the influence of a very small percentage of the population. In 2011, Professor Lessig founded Rootstrikers, an organization dedicated to changing the influence of money in Congress. In his book, Republic, Lost, he explored how everyday citizens can help fix a broken system.
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School
1:50 - 2:00 p.m.
Panel Three: Making New Rules that Help Taxpayers, Voters, Investors, Employees and Members
2:00 - 3:25 p.m.
While Citizens United limited the scope of solutions that are available for campaign finance legislation, the decision leaves ample room for a wide range of reforms in the realm of tax law, employment law, corporate law and securities law. And the barriers to reform that Citizens United has constructed has inspired several legal and grassroots groups to work on a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the decision.
Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen - Moderator
Fran Hill, Miami Law School
Jason Bent, Stetson University College of Law
Robert Jackson, Columbia Law School
Lisa Graves, Center for Media and Democracy
Editor of the Law Review