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The Daily Tar Heel

More money, problems: After major Supreme Court ruling on corporate spending in elections, N.C. must act to limit effects

North Carolina lawmakers should act to limit out-of-state corporate spending in state elections.

Without limits, state residents could find their voices in elections drowned out by a flood of corporate-funded advertising.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that certain limits on corporate election spending are unconstitutional. The court nullified portions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that limited this spending.

It’s not entirely clear how this will affect North Carolina elections. But the N.C. General Assembly shouldn’t wait around to find out.

North Carolina law already forbids direct corporate contributions in elections.

But at issue in the Citizens United case is corporate spending on election communications — whether corporations can pay for and run advertisements on behalf of or against a candidate.

Legislators should take a stance against the court’s decisions to protect N.C. elections, even if that stance doesn’t hold up later in court.

The court’s decision overturns years of precedent and acknowledgement that corporate money is simply too influential in elections.

Friday, a post on The (Raleigh) News & Observer’s political blog Under the Dome noted that the court’s decision could allow more out-of-state money to be spent on North Carolina elections.

The legislature, in its upcoming session, should act to curtail that spending as well.

There have been calls in Washington, D.C. for publicly financed congressional elections. That might be an option.

But Congress is in a stalemate, and it would be unwise to count on its action.

Corporations might not be able to vote, but their voices are heard through their money. The Supreme Court unleashed that money.

North Carolina elections should not be a free-for-all.

Only North Carolina residents vote in North Carolina elections, and only North Carolina companies should be able to spend on North Carolina elections.

Obviously, there’s no way to know how the Supreme Court’s decision will affect North Carolina elections.

But the General Assembly needs to take proactive action to protect North Carolina elections.

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