Re-arguments ordered in Supreme Court campaign finance case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday ordered [order, DOC] re-argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [Cornell LII backgrounder] on whether Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission [Oyez backgrounders] should be overturned in deciding the case. Both cases deal with the facial validity of Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) [text, PDF], which the Federal Election Commission (FEC) [official website] argues allows them to regulate the release of and advertising for a 90-minute documentary, questioning then-Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) qualifications to serve as US president. Petitioner Citizens United [advocacy website], a non-profit conservative advocacy corporation who produced the film, appealed on broad First Amendment grounds a decision [opinion, PDF] by the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website], which held that the movie was "electioneering communication" within the meaning of BCRA.

The Court originally heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in March. The government had argued the Court's decisions in McConnell and Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life [opinions, PDF] allowed them to regulate the video because it was funded by a corporation and could not reasonably be interpreted as anything other than an appeal to vote against Clinton. Citizens United argued that the movie was the kind of "robust, uninhibited debate about a subject of intense political interest" that the First Amendment was designed to protect.

 

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