The Washington Post on Citizens United

I report below on the data reported by this Washington Post article, but I also wanted to comment about the way the article frames the issue:

Labor unions have dominated spending on independent campaign ads so far this election season, despite a recent Supreme Court decision that freed spending by corporations, a Washington Post analysis shows….

In January, the Supreme Court struck down laws and previous cases that prohibited corporations from paying for hard-hitting campaign ads. But some argue that corporations are still likely to begin spending heavily on campaigns….

Why “despite a recent Supreme Court decision that freed spending by corporations”? The decision freed spending by corporations and unions, by striking down a statutory provision that barred general-treasury-fund independent expenditures both by corporations and unions.

Prof. Rick Hasen, the author of Election Law Blog and no fan of Citizens United, tells me that unions had spoken more than corporations before Citizens United, apparently because they were “more willing to skirt the line on what 527s could do with union money than corporations were willing to do.” But Citizens United nonetheless freed unions as well as corporations to use their general treasury funds without worry, a pretty important right that makes speech much easier for those organizations. Simply saying “freed spending by corporations” and “struck down laws and previous cases that prohibited corporations from paying for hard-hitting campaign ads” strikes me as rather incomplete.