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Citizens United Joins Other Groups Filing A U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief

Citizens United joined The Southeastern Legal Foundation by filing a United States Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of itself and 9 organizations in support of the petition filed by Minority Television Project, Inc. challenging the political free speech limits and censorship exercised by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

(Minority Television Project, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission and the United States of America, No. 13- 1124).

The other groups include Atlantic Legal Foundation, Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Reason Foundation, Individual Rights Foundation, Northwest Legal Foundation, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Goldwater Institute, Center for Competitive Politics, and Cause of Action. The broad coalition of groups represents the entire geographic breadth of the United States.

13-1124 - Southeastern Legal Foundation Coalition Amici Brief (1) (1)

Cagle Post: Celebrating Freedom In The Live Free Or Die State

This past weekend, we were honored to host the inaugural New Hampshire Freedom Summit which, as the New York Times put it, was “a gathering of several hundred put together by two of the most influential groups on the right, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United.” The event was a complete success, and I am so thankful for all of those who put in the hard work along with us to make it happen.

The line started forming at seven in the morning, outside of the venue, two hours ahead of the start of the Freedom Summit. Activists from all over the Granite State joined us to hear from our stellar conservative lineup, and you could feel the enthusiasm in the room from the moment the attendees started walking through the door. We kicked off the event with remarks from New Hampshire’s own Senator Kelly Ayotte, who gave an impassioned speech about the importance of the elections in November, and how it will shape the future of this nation. She spoke of the importance of saving our economy, how we must repeal and replace Obamacare, and how it is crucial to elect leaders who will adhere to the U.S. Constitution, enabling us to preserve our liberties.

Read more at Cagle Post here.

Cagle Post: The Obamacare Deadline Came and Went, and It is Still Bad for America

The March 31st deadline we were told was concrete, that there was no way it would be pushed back and even that they did not have the statutory authority to do so. Through the honor code, those that allegedly already started the process can check a box and receive more time to do so. Do not hold your breath for strong enforcement. Add it to the other deceptive statements and unilateral changes we have seen all-too-often. This came as no surprise to me. As the deadline neared, another delay seemed inevitable.

Read more at Cagle Post here.

McCutcheon v. FEC Carries On Citizens United’s Legacy of Protecting Political Speech

In what many are calling the biggest ruling on campaign finance since the landmark 2010 Citizens United case, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down laws limiting the total amount of money individuals can donate to federal candidates, political committees, and political parties.

Chief Justice John Roberts led the charge in the 5-4 decision, McCutcheon v. FEC, finding that the $123,200 cap on an individual’s donations to candidates and committees, per two-year election cycle, violated the First Amendment. (Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito signed on to C.J. Roberts’ opinion, with Justice Thomas agreeing in a separate concurrence that the limit should be invalidated.)

Relaying that First Amendment jurisprudence protects an individual’s right of political association via campaign contributions, Roberts determined that the cap failed the scrutiny test applicable to laws restricting political speech. Such restrictions are constitutional only if ‘“the State demonstrates a sufficiently important interest and employs means closely drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgment of associational freedoms,”’ McCutcheon, No. 12-536, slip op. at 8 (Apr. 2, 2014) (quoting Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 25 (1976)).

The Court agreed that the aggregate limit imposed a burden on free speech, since it prohibited an individual from contributing the maximum base amount to 10 or more candidates (within the $123,200 cap, only $48,600 can go to candidates). It surmised, “The Government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.” Id. at 15. Therefore, a thorough examination of the government’s motives in keeping these limits was needed.

Roberts affirmed that Supreme Court precedent “has identified only one legitimate government interest for restricting campaign finances: preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption,” id. at 18, and that corruption must be of the quid pro quo variety, id. at 19. (For example, contributing money to an officeholder directly in exchange for control of the officerholder’s official duties). Moreover, the Court cited Citizens United in proclaiming, “because the Government’s interest in preventing the appearance of corruption is equally confined to the appearance of quid pro quo corruption, the Government may not seek to limit the appearance of mere influence or access.” Id.

The opinion expressed difficulty understanding how the government could argue that contributing the maximum base amount ($5,200) to 9 candidates prevented quid pro quo corruption, yet contributing the same maximum amount to 10 candidates encouraged such corruption. Id. at 21-22. Thus, the government could only justify the aggregate limits by showing they “prevent circumvention of [these] base limits.” Id. at 22.

However, the Court found that the government could not even prove the legitimacy of this purpose. It determined that numerous rules regulating antiproliferation and earmarking already prevent wealthy donors from directly channeling money given to outside groups to candidates in order to circumvent and exceed base limits to candidates. Id. at 23. For example, such a donor giving to a noncandidate PAC “cannot retain control over his contribution [. . .], direct his money ‘in any way’ to [a particular candidate], or even imply that he would like his money to be recontributed [to a particular candidate].” Id. at 23 (citing numerous FEC regulations). As with this example, all the possible “corruption” issues suggested by the government and the dissent that would occur absent aggregate limits are already illegal or incredibly implausible. Id. at 28.

Finally, the Court concluded that the aggregate limit was not “closely drawn” to both achieve its purpose of preventing circumvention and protect First Amendment freedoms. Id. at 30. For instance, the Court pointed to evidence showing that “candidates who receive campaign contributions spend most of the money on themselves, rather than passing along donations to other candidates.” Id. at 32. Additionally the Court highlighted evidence showing that not even political parties or committees give vast amounts of money directly to candidates. Id. at 31. Consequently, the Court determined “the indiscriminate ban on all contributions above the aggregate limits is disproportionate to the Government’s interest in preventing circumvention.” Id. at 32. Furthermore, the Court offered that a less restrictive approach to solve this problem would be to, for example, limit transfers between political committees and candidates. Id. at 33. Thus there was little need for such overreaching aggregation limits.

In closing, the Court asserted that the aggregate limits on campaign donations “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise ‘the most fundamental First Amendment activities.”’ Id. at 40 (citing Buckley, 424 U.S. at 14). We here at Citizens United could not agree more, and we are proud that our 2010 Supreme Court case continues to play such an important role in advancing freedom of speech for all Americans.

Bossie: ‘The First Amendment Prevails Again’

Washington, DC -- Citizens United President David N. Bossie released the following statement on today’s McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court ruling:

“Building on the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling the Justices reinstated the First Amendment for all Americans,” said David N. Bossie, President of Citizens United. “The First Amendment prevails thanks to the efforts of Shaun McCutcheon and Republican National Committee led by Reince Priebus. By taking a stand against the Federal Election Commission they ensured our First Amendment rights will not be further trampled by the government bureaucrats.”

Cagle Post: Coming to ‘Terms’ with Reality on Capitol Hill

It’s no secret here in the United States that Congress is broken and horribly unpopular. Budgets can’t get passed on time, the all-important appropriations process has become non-existent, and the term “regular order” is a thing of the past. Our leaders in Congress on both sides of the aisle ignore our nation’s most obvious problem – our addiction to spending money we don’t have – while focusing on attending parties to fund their own re-election efforts.

Earlier this month, a Fox News poll found that a whopping 67 percent of those surveyed would vote to replace all current Members of Congress with someone new. While that is a startling statistic, sadly it’s essentially meaningless because we all know that will never happen.

Read more at Cagle Post here.

Supremes Remind the Obama Administration that Religious Freedom Isn’t Dead Yet

Things may be looking up for the First Amendment and religious freedom at the High Court.

According to Politico, a majority of the Justices hearing oral arguments today in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius cases “seemed particularly doubtful” of the Obama Administration’s claim that “for-profit companies have no religious rights under federal law.” Both for-profit companies challenged the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, arguing that the federal government cannot force the owners of such companies to violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs in order to provide birth control to their employees.

In particular, some of the Justices – like us here at Citizens United – didn’t quite understand why the Obama Administration could not allow for-profit companies to opt-out of the contraception mandate, as it had for churches and religious non-profits.

For example, Politico notes that Justice Kennedy, typically the swing-vote “decider” in controversial Supreme Court cases, questioned the government’s argument that for-profit companies had no religious rights under the U.S. Constitution or Federal law. Kennedy told U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the administration’s attorney, that ‘“Under your [the government’s] view a for-profit corporation…could be faced in principle to pay for abortions? [. . .] Your reasoning would permit that.”’

Kennedy’s question is especially important because, as Chief Justice John Roberts mentioned during the arguments, both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. view several types of birth control that they would be forced to offer under the mandate as abortion-inducing.

Unsurprisingly, the Administration quickly dismissed the Court’s push-back on that issue. Although the government respected the owners’ beliefs that certain birth control methods caused abortion, Verrilli said, federal and state law disagree with their analysis.

But not all the Justices appeared to side with religious liberty this morning. Elena Kagan, Obama’s 2010 nominee to the Court, asserted that allowing for profit-companies to opt-out of the mandate would clear the way for companies to justify opting-out of complying with child labor, sex discrimination, and/or minimum wage laws on religious grounds.

Paul Clement, a former Republican Solicitor General and the companies’ lawyer, replied that simply would not happen. While the government clearly has the needed “compelling interest” to enforce the laws Kagan mentioned, Clement and his clients vehemently disagreed that the Administration has a strong enough “compelling interest” in promoting preventive healthcare – through encouraging planned pregnancies – to justify violating religious freedom rights.

The final decision on the case should come out later this year. More than 100 businesses and employers have sued over the contraceptive mandate. And for institutions like the University of Notre Dame, who lost its court battle and is being forced to provide birth control or face steep fines for refusing, the decision can’t come quickly enough.

Cagle Post: Democrats’ Buyer’s Remorse On Obamacare

In just under two weeks the open enrollment period for Obamacare will draw to a close. That is unless there is another change to the law to go along with the dozens of other unilateral modifications. March 31st is the deadline for individuals to obtain health care coverage and those who fail to enroll will be subject to a new tax penalty.

The law set out long term to provide health care coverage to more than 50 million uninsured individuals with the assurance that the reform would only affect them. Those Americans with current coverage were promised that they could keep their insurance plans and their doctor — a promise that turned out to be patently untrue. The Obama Administration initially set a goal of seven million enrollees by the end of this month — a figure that was shortly revised to just six million as complications from the law’s miserable implementation and clunky website began to pile up.

Read more at Cagle Post here.

Breitbart.com: Citizens United At CPAC - A Hub Of Conservative Activity

Amid the droves of attendees that descended upon National Harbor for the 50th anniversary of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Citizens United attracted thousands of these individuals to its events.

Over the course of the conference, Citizens United presented a program that included an array of prominent conservative speakers at events interspersed with a schedule of our award-winning documentary films at the Citizens United Theater.

Read more at Breitbart.com here.

Cagle Post: A Diminished President

In the last few weeks, the world’s attention has been fixed on Ukraine. This activity is just another event in a long series of global crises over the course of the past several years. The world is watching and waiting on the United States, as our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President continues to sit back and allow evil to go unchallenged on the world’s stage.

While Obama and his liberal allies may think the Cold War is ancient history, Putin appears to disagree. Not only does he disagree, he is challenging Obama by advancing into Ukraine. The Russian autocrat is taking advantage of Ukrainian instability and American weakness to seize the strategically-important Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine. While it’s true that most of the residents of Crimea are ethnically Russian, the area has been part of the Ukraine since the end of the Cold War and the Russians have no right to take it.

Read more at Cagle Post here.

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Latest Updates

Citizens United Joins Other Groups Filing A U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief

Citizens United joined The Southeastern Legal Foundation by filing a...

Cagle Post: Celebrating Freedom In The Live Free Or Die State

This past weekend, we were honored to host the inaugural...

Cagle Post: The Obamacare Deadline Came and Went, and It is Still Bad for America

The March 31st deadline we were told was concrete, that...

McCutcheon v. FEC Carries On Citizens United’s Legacy of Protecting Political Speech

In what many are calling the biggest ruling on campaign...

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