Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205 - U.S. Supreme Court
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Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205

The Court rules that the government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether. Specifically, in an action brought by a nonprofit corporation, the makers of a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy, challenging the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that was an "electioneering communication" or for speech that expressly advocated the election or defeat of a candidate, a denial of a preliminary injunction for plaintiff is reversed in part where Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990), is overruled, and thus provides no basis for allowing the government to limit corporate independent expenditures. Hence, the part of McConnell v. Federal Election Comm'n, 540 U.S. 93 (2007), that upheld the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act section 203's extension of section 441b's restrictions on independent corporate expenditures is also overruled. However, the order is affirmed in part where BCRA sections 201 and 311 were valid as applied to the ads for the documentary and to the movie itself because disclaimer and disclosure requirements may burden the ability to speak, but they impose no ceiling on campaign-related activities, or prevent anyone from speaking.

Read Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205

Appellate Information

Argued March 24, 2009

Reargued September 9, 2009

Decided January 21, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Justice Kennedy

Concurrence by Chief Justice Roberts

Concurrence by Justice Scalia

Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Justice Stevens