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O’Connor calls Citizens United ‘a problem’

Add retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to the list of people unhappy with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

Speaking at Georgetown University Law Center yesterday, O’Connor called the ruling “a problem for an independent judiciary.”

The longtime advocate for ending judicial elections said the ruling, which allows corporations and presumably unions to inject large amounts of money into campaigns, can have unintended consequences. Although the ruling applies to federal elections only – and federal judges are appointed, not elected – states that do hold judicial elections could adopt similar campaign finance rules.

“This rise in judicial campaigning makes last week’s opinion in Citizens United a problem for an independent judiciary,” O’Connor told the crowd. “No state can possibly benefit from having that much money injected into a political campaign.”

But speaking later to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, O’Connor demurred when asked about the wisdom of the ruling in Bush v. Gore – which she took part in.

“You remember that case in the Supreme Court,” Blitzer asked her.

“Oh, I remember that case,” O’Connor said.

“Was that the right decision?” Blitzer asked.

“I don’t know,” O’Connor said. “It was a hard decision to make. But I do know this: there were at least three separate recounts of the votes, the ballots, in the four counties where it was challenged and not in one of the recounts would the election have changed. So I don’t worry.”

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