POLITICS
12/19/2010 01:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Former Justices Stevens & O'Connor Reject 'Citizens United' Ruling

Former Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O'Connor recently appeared to come to a similar conclusion about the majority decision reached by their former colleagues in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Committee earlier this year: it was a "mistake."

In an interview between the two in Newsweek, Stevens, who stood on the dissenting side of Citizens United, characterized the final decision in the case as a failure that he would like to see readdressed:

O'Connor: I suppose the court has had occasion to change its view on certain issues over a period of years. Do you see any on the horizon that you think the court might well reexamine as things go on?

Stevens: Well, you know, Sandra, I dissented in a lot of cases, and I'd like [the court] to reexamine them all [laughs]. I don't expect them to, but I think they made a serious mistake in the [Citizens United] campaign-finance case, in which they overruled the portion of an opinion you and I jointly authored [on the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law]. And I think you might share my view.

O'Connor, who retired before the Citizens United ruling, then responded with a less direct criticism of the Supreme Court's final determination:

I notice that myself, and when I am asked about it, I often say, "Well, the court overruled part of what I wrote." And leave it there. It is a source of concern today, the extent of campaign contributions and whether corporations and unions must be held to the [same] standard as an individual. These are tough issues for the nation and the court.

A recent analysis of the effects of Citizens United found that $132.5 million, about 15 percent of all federal political spending in the recent election cycle, was channeled by anonymous groups or unlimited donations authorized by the Supreme Court's ruling.