Sen. Hatch questioned Kagan extensively this moring about the Citizens United campaign finance case. Although he did not raise the pro-life issue, this case, and Kagan’s view of the decision, sheds light on how she would rule in cases involving freedom of pro-life speech.
Kagan says, "Congress made a determination here. And the determination was that corporations had this corrupting influence on Congress. … And we in the Solicitor General office … vigorously defended that statute as it was written."
She adds, "Now, the court rejected that position … because political speech is of paramount value." In other words, she claims that, in arguing in defense of campaign finance laws, she was just doing her job.
But Hatch notes that President Obama claimed Citizens United was wrong–and that Kagan was not merely doing her job, but rather following her conscience in opposing the group. Here, from AUL’s Kagan File memo on the Citizens United case, are Obama’s exact words on the case: "Last year . . . she defended bipartisan campaign finance reform against special interests seeking to spend unlimited money to influence our elections. Despite long odds of success, with most legal analysts believing the government was unlikely to prevail in this case, Elena still chose it as her very first case to argue before the Court. I think that says a great deal . . . about her commitment to serving the American people . . . [and] her commitment to protect our fundamental rights, because in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens."
However, In practice, campaign finance reform laws have negatively impacted non-profit policy groups more dramatically than the vilified “big corporation.” Many non-profits (e.g. pro-life organizations) do not have the resources to meet the requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform laws, and therefore are limited in their ability to engage in political speech. This is detrimental to society because these organizations often provide the most effective way for member-citizens to vocalize their political views at critical times.
Read more about the Citizens United case, and what it says about Kagan’s agenda-driven judicial philosophy, on AUL’s Kagan File.