Supreme Court schedules special Thursday session
By Robert Barnes
Is the political world's long wait for a major Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance laws finally coming to an end?
At the conclusion of its session Wednesday, the court announced it would be coming back Thursday at 10 a.m. for a previously unscheduled session. The court never tips its hand, but it seems at least a strong possibility that a decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is behind the special session. The case, first argued last spring, was reargued in September to consider whether it was unconstitutional for Congress to forbid corporations and labor unions to use their treasuries to bankroll ads for and against candidates.
Those who advocate greater government control over campaign contributions say a court decision in the affirmative would revolutionize the way political campaigns are funded. Corporations and labor unions now are required to fund their political activities through contributions raised by their political action committees.
Activists on both sides of the issue have been awaiting a decision for months. The court by law is supposed to expedite constitutional challenges to campaign finance laws, and justices interrupted their break to hear new arguments on the case on Sept. 9. Some already consider the decision overdue, although there is no deadline for any court ruling.
Without changing its schedule, the next opportunity for the court to issue a decision in the case was Monday. So why schedule an extra day instead of simply waiting until then?
The speculation goes like this: The Citizens United decision is expected to be big, and possibly messy, with vivid dissents. All justices want to be there for it, perhaps to read their own views from the bench. And Monday is the last day before the court begins its mid-term break. Since that session is just to issue opinions, rather than hear arguments, some justices might want to skip it and begin their breaks early.
Remember, any prediction about what the court will do is only speculation. The first truism one learns at the Marble Palace: It's the Supreme Court -- they can do whatever they want.
Web Politics Editor
January 20, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Court Watch , DEPT. OF JURISPRUDENCE , Supreme Court
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