The Impact of Citizens United on Republican Opposition to Climate Change Legislation
In this essay, I analyze the degree to which the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC impacted the opposition of the federal Republican Party to climate change legislation. I first draw upon preexisting literature to demonstrate how the GOP had already been growing more opposed to climate science and legislation since the 1980s because of both internal ideological developments within the party and the influence of fossil fuel industry funded think tanks and lobbying, and how the Court’s 2010 decision was not as monumentally important in the grand scheme of US campaign finance regulation as it is often treated as. Thereafter, I analyze how campaign finance changed after Citizens United, noting a substantial increase in independent election spending, and how this impacted electoral outcomes for Republicans. I conclude that, while there is not enough research on the effects of independent expenditures on federal elections post-Citizens United, and more research is needed in that field, the Republican Party was already so anti-climate by 2010 that it is unlikely Citizens United had a significant impact on that position.
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