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Citizens United Files Brief in Landmark Campaign-Finance Case

Supreme Court urged to strike down ban on corporate ads

WASHINGTON, DC— On Friday, March 23, Citizens United, a conservative advocacy organization, filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down a key provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which bans corporations from sponsoring TV and radio ads that refer to a federal candidate in the weeks preceding an election.

Noting that the First Amendment was “ratified . . . to keep Congress’s hands off the political process,” the brief accuses the Federal Election Commission and congressional supporters of the ban of having “relegated [the Amendment’s] freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and petition to near obscurity in their briefs.”

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“Neither brief contains quotes from, or even paraphrases, the First Amendment text, and each dispenses completely with any analysis based upon that text—notwithstanding this Court’s salutary rule of construction that ‘every word of the Constitution must have its due force, and appropriate meaning.”

Citizens United filed its brief in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, which centers on a series of TV ads that Wisconsin Right to Life sought to run before the 2004 elections. The ads encouraged Wisconsin residents to contact their two U.S. senators and urge them to oppose the filibuster of President Bush’s judicial nominees. The FEC contends the ads were illegal, because they would have been paid for, in part, with corporate funds and they referred by name to Senator Russ Feingold, a candidate for re-election at the time.

“McCain-Feingold is such a bad piece of legislation that it has made allies out of adversaries like Wisconsin Right to Life and the ACLU in a true battle over free speech,” said Citizens United President David N. Bossie. “With the appointment of two new justices since the Supreme Court ruled on this law three years ago, we are hopeful for a more favorable outcome this time.”

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on April 25, and a decision is expected by the end of June. A copy of the Citizens United brief is available at

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