Chalk up another blow to transparency and an informed electorate, and another judicial victory for the democratic perversion known as corporate "free speech."
Last week, in Minnesota Citizens for Life, Inc. v Swanson, six of the eleven jurists serving on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal struck down the provisions of a Minnesota statute requiring corporations which create separate political funds in excess of $100 to file periodic financial disclosure reports with the state.
The case had been filed by three corporations, all of which contended that the reporting requirements were so onerous as to amount to a de facto ban on corporate free speech that violated Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission [PDF]. That argument had been rejected first by a U.S. District Court Judge and then by way of a 2-1 Eighth Circuit panel decision. The majority on that panel had noted that even Citizens United recognized the government's right to "regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements" so long as the government did "not suppress that speech altogether."
On rehearing before the full 8th Circuit, Chief Judge William C. Reilly, a George W. Bush appointee, writing for the six member majority, acknowledged that the Minnesota statute "does not prohibit corporate speech." The majority ruled, however, that that state statute entailed excessive regulation which included an "ongoing" reporting requirement on the part of the corporate political fund that continues unless or until the corporation dissolves the fund. Chief Judge Reilly described that burden as both "onerous" and "monstrous."
The five dissenting jurists, which also included George W. Bush appointees, vigorously disagreed...