Leftist heads are exploding, of course. But this decision - if upheld - can be a game changer. The New York Times:
A federal judge in Virginia has declared unconstitutional a century-old law banning political contributions from corporations, a ruling that, if upheld, could have major implications for the rules governing campaign fund-raising and spending.
But while the ruling addressed one of the biggest issues in the ideological and partisan battle over regulating campaign donations - a question likely to be taken up at some point by the Supreme Court - the circumstances of the case left unclear how much practical and legal effect it would have.
The decision, issued Thursday by Judge James C. Cacheris of Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, did not come in one of the many legal and regulatory challenges now being mounted by proponents of loosening campaign finance restrictions. Instead, it was from the criminal trial of two Virginia businessmen accused of circumventing the law to donate tens of thousands of dollars to the Senate and presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Still, the ruling drew from and extended the reasoning in the Supreme Court's landmark decision last year in the Citizens United case. The justices ruled in that case that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections, but did not address the current bans on direct contributions by corporations to candidates.
That's the key; how expansively will courts interpret Citizens United? Supreme Court watchers believe that the Justices are looking for just the right case to accept that they can rule narrowly, but clear up some of the ambiguities resulting from Citizen United.
What is the practical effect of the decision?
But the practical impact of the decision is unclear. Mr. Hasen and others said that Judge Cacheris's ruling had ignored a 2003 Supreme Court decision, Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, that upheld the ban on direct corporation contributions to federal candidates and was not specifically overturned in Citizens United.
Should corporations be treated the same as individuals when it comes to campaign finance laws? The Citizen United decision said yes, but at the same time, opened other questions about direct contributions that have yet to be resolved. This case probably won't decide the issue, but SCOTUS might.