Supreme Court: Campaign Finance Overhaul in 'Hillary' Case?

By Richey, Warren | The Christian Science Monitor, September 8, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Supreme Court: Campaign Finance Overhaul in 'Hillary' Case?


Richey, Warren, The Christian Science Monitor


The US Supreme Court this week takes up a potential crossroads case that could greatly expand the ability of corporations and labor unions to wield influence in federal elections.

The high court on Wednesday is re-hearing a case it heard last spring involving a Federal Election Commission (FEC) effort to block an unflattering 90-minute video portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton. She was then running for the Democratic presidential nomination. The film was called, "Hillary: The Movie."

The FEC said the film was the equivalent of an electioneering attack advertisement and thus could be regulated under the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. The conservative nonprofit group that produced the film, Citizens United, charged that the FEC's actions amounted to unconstitutional suppression of political speech.

"Hillary: The Movie" is a documentary, the group said, not a political advertisement.

The case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, asks a fundamental question: Whether corporations and labor unions have the same protected First Amendment free speech rights as individuals to engage in political debate during elections without facing government censorship.

The answer to that question is important because it could open the door to a flood of corporate and union dollars to try to influence federal elections.

The case could mark a turning point in the legal battle over campaign-finance reform. The justices have suggested they will be taking a close look at two existing legal precedents with an eye toward overturning them. Both deal with government efforts to restrict corporate spending for certain issue advertising and other political broadcasts immediately prior to elections.

During the earlier oral argument in March, a government lawyer - in response to a hypothetical question - told the justices that the FEC had the power to ban corporate-produced political books that urge the election or defeat of a particular candidate. The exchange may have triggered the high court's decision to re-hear the case and closely examine the underlying precedents.

"When the government of the United States of America claims the authority to ban books because of their political speech, something has gone terribly wrong," writes Theodore Olson, lawyer for Citizens United, in his brief to the court.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Supreme Court: Campaign Finance Overhaul in 'Hillary' Case?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?