Quick Fact: Limbaugh is latest media conservative to accuse Obama of ignorance or "lying" about Supreme Court ruling

››› ››› TODD GREGORY

On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said that President Obama "didn't know what he was talking about or he was just out-and-out lying" when he said during the State of the Union address that the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC would "open the floodgates" for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend in U.S. elections. In fact, four of the Supreme Court's justices agreed in their opinion that the decision "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans" to make certain election-related expenditures.

From the January 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: It's clear the president didn't know what he was talking about or he was just out-and-out lying because he knows he's not going to be fact-checked on matters like that by most in the state-controlled media. [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/28/10]

Fact: Four justices said logic of decision would appear to protect "multinational corporations controlled by foreigners"

Stevens: Logic of decision "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans." From Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in Citizens United v. FEC -- an opinion joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor (footnotes omitted):

If taken seriously, our colleagues' assumption that the identity of a speaker has no relevance to the Government's ability to regulate political speech would lead to some remarkable conclusions. Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by "Tokyo Rose" during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders. More pertinently, it would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans: To do otherwise, after all, could " 'enhance the relative voice' " of some ( i.e., humans) over others ( i.e. , nonhumans). Ante, at 33 (quoting Buckley, 424 U. S., at 49). Under the majority's view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.

Stevens: Decision will "cripple" government's ability to prevent "corporate domination of the electoral process." Stevens also wrote:

The Court's blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process. Americans may be forgiven if they do not feel the Court has advanced the cause of self-government today.

Fact: Other experts say Citizens United decision might lead to campaign money from foreign corporations

Several experts argue that decision opens door to campaign money from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations. As Media Matters for America has detailed, experts on campaign finance law stated that that the Supreme Court's ruling does not prohibit foreign-controlled companies operating in the United States from spending money to elect or defeat political candidates.

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