Quick Fact: Fox News' O'Reilly, Kelly claim Obama "made a mistake" with Supreme Court criticism
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On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly and Fox News host Megyn Kelly claimed that President Obama "made a mistake" when he criticized the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, asserting that it's "not true" the decision would, in Obama's words, "open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections." But, in fact, four Supreme Court justices agreed in their opinion that the decision "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans" to make certain election-related expenditures.
Kelly: "President Obama is not accurate"
O'Reilly and Kelly claimed Obama's Supreme Court criticism was "not true." O'Reilly and Kelly criticized Obama's State of the Union remarks on the January 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: I don't care about the spin; I just want the law.
O'REILLY: All right? I'm in Poland. I own a corporation. I want to give money to an American politician. Can I do it?
O'REILLY: And what happens if I try?
KELLY: You did -- you're not allowed. I mean, if somebody caught you, you could be prosecuted. It'd be a violation of the law.
O'REILLY: OK, so if I'm in Poland and I want to go to Disney World and I show up and I gave money to John McCain or whoever, they could arrest me.
KELLY: Yes. That's not allowed. But here's what happened: President Obama came out and said that foreign companies -- that this ruling by the Supreme Court opens the door for foreign companies --
KELLY: -- to basically make contributions.
O'REILLY: Intrude into the election.
KELLY: And then it was pointed out that the law is actually that foreign companies are still not allowed to make these donations.
O'REILLY: And why didn't the president know that?
KELLY: And then the White House -- well, Laura Ingraham has a point. Whoever wrote that line for him in the speech needs to be held accountable. So then the White House came out and said, "Well, maybe, it's not foreign corporations but subsidiaries, domestic subsidiaries --
O'REILLY: But that's a pretty big mistake.
KELLY: -- of foreign corporations. But even that is arguably not true, because there's an FEC regulation --
O'REILLY: But that's not what he said. He didn't say domestic subsidiaries.
KELLY: No, he said foreign corporations. So the Supreme Court opened --
O'REILLY: He didn't say a little Monty's auto body shop in Akron, which is owned by some Polish baron.
O'REILLY: You know, Monty lives in the United States.
KELLY: He said the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to special interest, including foreign companies to spend without limits.
O'REILLY: And that's not true.
KELLY: And that's not true.
O'REILLY: So they made a mistake, the White House?
KELLY: I think they did. But let me --
O'REILLY: You think or you know?
KELLY: No, they did. That's --
O'REILLY: They did. OK.
KELLY: As spoken by President Obama is not accurate.
Four justices: Logic of decision would appear to protect "multinational corporations controlled by foreigners"
Stevens: Logic of decision "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans." From Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in Citizens United v. FEC -- an opinion joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor (footnotes omitted):
If taken seriously, our colleagues' assumption that the identity of a speaker has no relevance to the Government's ability to regulate political speech would lead to some remarkable conclusions. Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by "Tokyo Rose" during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders. More pertinently, it would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans: To do otherwise, after all, could " 'enhance the relative voice' " of some ( i.e. , humans) over others ( i.e. , nonhumans). Ante , at 33 (quoting Buckley , 424 U. S., at 49). Under the majority's view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.
Stevens: Decision will "cripple" government's ability to prevent "corporate domination of the electoral process." Stevens also wrote:
The Court's blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process. Americans may be forgiven if they do not feel the Court has advanced the cause of self-government today.
Fact: Other experts say Citizens United decision might lead to campaign money from foreign corporations
Several experts argue that decision opens door to campaign money from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations. As Media Matters for America has detailed, experts on campaign finance law stated that that the Supreme Court's ruling does not prohibit foreign-controlled companies operating in the United States from spending money to elect or defeat political candidates.