LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Wednesday night he expects that the court has already had second thoughts about parts of its controversial Citizens United ruling that eased restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns.
The sharply divided court ruled that independent spending by corporations does "not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." Stevens, who dissented from that 2010 decision, said that at some point the court will have to issue an opinion "explicitly crafting an exception that will create a crack in the foundation" of that ruling.
Speaking to hundreds of people at an event in Little Rock, the retired justice said President Barack Obama accurately criticized the ruling for reversing a century of law and allowing special interest groups to pump money into elections.
He cited Justice Samuel Alito's reaction to Obama's criticism, along with one of the court's later rulings when the justices rejected a free-speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups to a law that bars support to terrorist organizations.
Stevens said "the fact that the proposed speech would indirectly benefit a terrorist organization provided a sufficient basis for denying it First Amendment protection."