U.S. Supreme Court to hear campaign finance case
Sep 9, 2009
Published in the South Florida Business Journal on Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Wednesday in a case that could impact how elections are financed.
The case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, was first heard at the high court in March, but the court asked for it to be re-argued to focus on the constitutionality of limiting corporations’ independent spending during campaigns for the presidency and Congress.
At issue is whether corporate money can be used to directly advocate election or defeat of federal candidates.
Specifically, the nonprofit Citizens United funded, in part with corporate money, a film that attacked then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
While the 90-minute film does not expressly advocate for Clinton’s election or defeat, it discusses her Senate record, her White House record during her husband’s presidency and her presidential bid.
The FEC ruled that its airing violated the federal law’s definition as “electioneering communications” because the group was planning to run ads for the movie as the primary election season was getting under way.
When the court decided to rehear the case, it also asked that the parties return to argue whether key precedents regulating the use of corporate money for electioneering should be overturned.
“Overturning the court’s precedents on corporate election expenditures would be a disaster,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, in a news release. “Ours is a government of the people, by the people, for the people – not the corporations and their money. Corporations don’t vote, and they shouldn’t be permitted to spend limitless amounts of money to influence election outcomes.