Citizens United Decision Handed Down
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The Supreme Court met in a special session today and as expected handed down its decision in the Citizens United case, the most anticipated decision of the term. The result was entirely predictable and widely predicted, a 5-4 split overturning a century’s worth of campaign finance laws restricting the use of corporate money in political advertising. Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority and Justice Stevens wrote a 90 page dissent signed on to by the other three members of the liberal wing.

The case centered around a purported documentary about Hillary Clinton made by Citizens United. The movie, cleverly titled Hillary the Movie, paints an unflattering picture of the former First Lady and Senator. The film had a limited run in theaters but Citizens United also wanted to air it on cable via video on demand, and the group wanted to advertise for the movie on broadcast and cable TV stations. The FEC said doing so would be a violation of the campaign finance restrictions in McCain-Feingold.

The Court today struck down the provision in McCain-Feingold that bans corporate money from being spent directly on political advertising, but in a separate decision left intact limitations on corporate donations to candidates themselves. Although the law that was struck down was enacted in 2002, it traces its roots back to Theodore Roosevelt and the Tillman Act of 1907 – the first federal law to restrict corporate money in political campaigns.




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