Citizens United: Winners And Losers

Legal Web sites and election law experts can give you a much better read of the ins and outs of the decision, but let's get down to brass tacks: who's going to benefit, and who's going to be hurt? Quite obviously, corporations, unions and rich people who want to spend money to advocate for their causes will have a much freer hand. Since restrictions remain on party and candidate spending, and since there is a finite media space within which to spend the money, it will be extremely difficult for parties and candidates to use advertising to control messaging, public images, and the issue landscape. Again, that's all fairly obvious.

What else? Well, unions have been ballsier about figuring out how to unofficially channel money to Democratic campaigns; now that the limits are off, corporations, supposing they favor conservative interests and causes, will be able to re-balance what has been a structural imbalance in our political system.
The FEC and state election regulators lose. The case will, in the words of one of my Twitter followers, have a "chilling effect" on any attempt to regulate the Internet. (That means also that the Internet benefits.)

TV stations win big! More money for their ads.

Incumbents win. They've built up relationships with established interests, and now these interests will be able to spent unlimited amounts of money in federal races.

Small donors lose. Citizen-led causes lose -- if they're not funded by rich people.

Social conservatives win. There are a bunch of wealthy social conservatives who've been itching for a way to directly influence elections but have been frustrated by their inability to so do -- or their need to launder the funds through other entities.

Legislatures in 24 states lose -- the ruling overturns 24 state laws regulating similar spending.

Pant suits lose. Anon points out: the majority, on page seven, affirms that to say Hillary Clinton looks good in a pant suit is "pejorative."

Aggressive new disclosure laws are winners -- even before they exist, because Justice Kennedy forcefully defended the concept.  So companies that provide us with campaign finance data may want to start hiring. And the decision, of course, is a full employment act for election lawyers.

J.D. Hayworth, who is challenging John McCain in a primary, now gets to place the good senator on the defensive about campaign finance reform, which is a subject that tends to anger GOP activists.