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One of the few remaining limits on corporations’ power to buy and sell American elections is that corporations are not allowed to give money directly to federal candidates. Citizens United frees them to spend billions of dollars running ads or otherwise trying to change the result of an election to suit their interests, but corporations cutting checks directly to candidates or to political committees such as the Republican National Committee is one of the few things the Supreme Court’s conservatives have not yet imposed upon the country.
If the RNC gets its way, however, that will soon change. In a brief filed yesterday in the Fourth Circuit, the RNC argues that the federal ban on corporate donations is unconstitutional in large part because it applies across the board to all corporations
This attempt to make mom and pop stores — as opposed to Halliburton — the face of the RNC’s argument is clever, but it does not change the implications of their argument. If a court accepted the RNC’s argument, it would have to strike down the entire federal ban on corporate donations — leaving Exxon and Halliburton free to give money to any candidate they’d like.