The Supreme Court today overturned a 100 year old restriction on corporations using their money to influence federal elections and ruled that companies have a free-speech right to spend as much as they wish to persuade voters to elect or defeat candidates for Congress and the White House.
In a 5-4 decision, the court’s conservative bloc said corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals and, for that reason, the government may not stop corporations from spending freely to influence the outcome of federal elections. Corporations can now spend any amount of at any time to influence elections. Not specifically to the candidate, but to influence the populace…and they don’t have to worry about being truthful about the candidate, we already have seen that!
Since 1907, corporations and unions have been barred from spending their own funds on broadcast ads or billboards that urge the election or defeat of a candidate. This restriction began when President Theodore Roosevelt, a republican, called on Congress to forbid corporations, railroads and national banks from using their money in election campaigns.Congress added labor unions after WW II.
In today’s decision, the high court struck down that restriction and said the First Amendment gives corporations, just like individuals, a right to spend their own money on political ads.
“The First Amendment does not permit Congress to make these categorical distinctions based on the corporate identity of the speaker and the content of the political speech,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for the court.
Two significant prohibitions on corporations were left standing. Corporations, and presumably unions, cannot give money directly to the campaigns of federal candidates. These “contribution” restrictions were not challenged in the case decided today. And secondly, the court affirmed current federal rules which require the sponsors of political ads to disclose who paid for them.
Today’s decision was supported by five justices who were Republican presidential nominees. They include Kennedy and Roberts along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Another conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, filed a separate opinion that mostly concurred with the majority, but made the case for going even further by striking down disclosure requirements.
Lower courts sided with the FEC and the Supreme court first heard the case in March of last year. But instead of coming back with a ruling in June, Chief Justice John Roberts asked the parties to return for a rare re-argument of the case, but instructed them to have a much broader focus. Not only to agrue whether the federal election laws should apply to “Hillary: The Movie”, but to include the ability to reverse 2 rulings upholding the government’s ability to limit corporate election spending.
Remember when Roberts and Alito stated in their hearings, under oath, that they would NOT vote to change supreme court rulings? Not only did they vote AGAINST other supreme court rulings, Roberts instructs the parties to allow the court to throw out other long term rulings! Talk about legislating from the bench! Time to impeach a couple of judges due to them lying under oath!