Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A case in Alaska could go to the U.S. Supreme Court and possibly overturn Citizens United.

A case in Alaska could go to the U.S. Supreme Court and possibly overturn Citizens United. (Photo: Joe Ravi/cc)

'Historic' Alaska Ruling Could Provide Roadmap to Defeating Citizens United

"This decision gives Alaskans and all Americans a chance to revisit those destructive decisions."

Eoin Higgins

A ruling in a court in Alaska Monday could open the door to imposing more restrictions on super PACs and possibly reversing the infamous 2012 Citizens United by the U.S. Supreme Court that in 2012 upended the nation's campaign finance laws.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge William F. Morse ordered the state to impose limits on donations to political groups in Alaska, saying in the ruling (pdf) that the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), which handles election enforcement, "should reinstate enforcement of the contribution limits at issue." The decision is expected to head to the Alaska Supreme Court.

In a statement, election reform group Equal Citizens founder Lawrence Lessig said that the decision in favor of three Alaskan citizens contesting the unlimited donations was "historic."

"This decision gives Alaskans and all Americans a chance to revisit those destructive decisions," said Lessig, who helped develop the legal strategy for the case. "And it will allow us to continue to make our case that the Framers did not wish to see super PACs. Just the opposite: they would have despised the kind of corruption we have seen recently, and the Constitution gives states the power to eliminate it."

Lessig framed the court's decision as a confirmation that Citizens United was just the ultimate symptom of a disease that began at the state and local level. 

"It shows what we have known for many years," said Lessig. "Citizens United did not create the super PAC; instead, unlimited donations have flown into independent groups because of incorrect interpretations by lower courts and state elections agencies."

Equal Citizens chief counsel Jason Harrow said that Morse's ruling provides a pathway to the U.S. Supreme Court via appeals. That's an opportunity, Harrow said, that his group has been waiting for. 

"The judge's opinion said that 'immediate review' by the Alaska Supreme Court is appropriate in a case of this magnitude," said Harrow. "We look forward to taking the case there and, hopefully, to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Once the case reaches the high court, said Harrow, Equal Citizens believes that there's a good chance at overturning Citizens United

"We are confident we have a theory that the Constitution does not require the states to get out of the business of curbing unlimited donations to super PACs," said Harrow.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'This Cannot Happen': Biden DHS Seeks Contractor for Migrant Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay

The solicitation for bids—which requires some guards who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole—comes as the administration is under fire for mass deportations of migrants, including thousands of Haitians.

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Vaccine Goals 'Fall Terribly Short' Due to Big Pharma and Rich Nations' Greed: Experts

"Wealthy nations are using up the world's vaccine supply, and developing nations are suffering and losing thousands of people every day."

Brett Wilkins ·


11 Senators Support House Progressives' Push to Pass Full Biden Agenda

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ex-Prisoners Recall US Torture at 'Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib'

"It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening," said one former Bagram Air Base inmate. "The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."

Brett Wilkins ·


Rapid Shift to Electric Vehicles Could Create Over 150,000 Jobs in US by 2030

A new report says "smart" pro-labor policies by lawmakers would transform the "inevitable" shift to EVs "into a new beginning for U.S. producers and the rebuilding of a foundation for good jobs."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo