High Court Strikes Corporate Spending Ban

Posted January 21, 2010 at 9:44am

The Supreme Court on Thursday lifted long-held bans on corporate and union involvement in federal elections, ruling that outside groups can spend unlimited sums on television advertising and other campaign expenditures. “The court has recognized that the First Amendment applies to corporations … and extended this to the context of political speech,— the justices ruled in the narrow 5-4 decision. The high court has been deliberating for months on the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which originally involved whether a conservative advocacy group could distribute and promote its made-for-television production “Hillary: The Movie— during the mandatory blackout periods preceding the 2008 presidential primaries.Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) are planning a news conference Thursday morning to announce they are introducing legislation to stem the effects of the decision.Before Thursday’s ruling, “Hillary: The Movie— was considered prohibited “electioneering communications— because it was considered the “functional equivalent— of prohibited “express advocacy— by outside groups. Corporations, unions and most trade associations are prohibited from bankrolling broadcast political ad campaigns — either directly or through outside groups — in the 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election.The Supreme Court asked to rehear the case, originally heard last June, last fall during Sonia Sotomayor’s first appearance on the bench.