Opinions & Commentaries

The issues tendered in this case are the construction and, ultimately, the constitutionality of 18 U. S. C. § 610, an Act of Congress that prohibits corporations and labor organizations from making "a contribution or expenditure in connection with" any election for federal office. This is a direct appeal by the Government from a judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan dismissing a four-count indictment that charged appellee, a labor organization, with having made expenditures in violation of that law. Appellee had moved to dismiss the indictment on the grounds (1) that it failed to state an offense under the statute and (2) that the provisions of the statute "on their face and as construed and applied" are unconstitutional. The district judge held that the indictment did not allege a statutory offense and that he was therefore not required to rule upon the constitutional questions presented. 138 F. Supp. 53. The case came here, 351 U. S. 904, under the Criminal Appeals Act of 1907, as amended, 18 U. S. C. § 3731.

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The question squarely presented here is whether a State, consistently with the United States Constitution, can make it a crime for the editor of a daily newspaper to write and publish an editorial on election day urging people to vote a certain way on issues submitted to them.

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The question presented in this case is whether the Georgia House of Representatives may constitutionally exclude appellant Bond, a duly elected Representative, from membership because of his statements, and statements to which he subscribed, criticizing the policy of the Federal Government in Vietnam and the operation of the Selective Service laws. An understanding of the circumstances of the litigation requires a complete presentation of the events and statements which led to this appeal.

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On September 10, 1960, three days before the New Hampshire Democratic Party's primary election of candidates for the United States Senate, the Concord Monitor, a daily newspaper in Concord, New Hampshire, published a syndicated "D. C. Merry-Go-Round" column discussing the forthcoming election. The column spoke of political maneuvering in the primary campaign, referred to the criminal records of several of the candidates, and characterized Alphonse Roy, one of the candidates, as a "former small-time bootlegger."[1] Roy was not *267 elected in the primary, and he subsequently sued the Monitor Patriot Co. and the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), the distributor of the column, for libel.

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The Ocala Star-Banner Co., a petitioner in this case, publishes a small daily newspaper serving four counties in rural Florida. On April 18, 1966, the Star-Banner *296 printed a story to the effect that the respondent, Leonard Damron, then the mayor of Crystal River in Citrus County and a candidate for the office of county tax assessor, had been charged in a federal court with perjury, and that his case had been held over until the following term of that court.[1] This story was false. The respondent had not been charged with any crime in federal court, nor had any case involving him been held over, but the story was substantially accurate as to his brother, James Damron.[2] Two weeks later the *297 respondent was defeated in the election for county tax assessor.

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Under Georgia law a candidate for elective public office who does not enter and win a political party's primary election can have his name printed on the ballot at the general election only if he has filed a nominating petition signed by at least 5% of the number of registered voters at the last general election for the office in question.[1] Georgia law also provides that a candidate for elective public office must pay a filing fee equal to 5% of the annual salary of the office he is seeking.[2] This litigation arose when the appellants, who were prospective candidates and registered voters,[3] filed a class action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, attacking the constitutionality of these provisions of the Georgia Election Code, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

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408 U.S. 606 (1972) GRAVEL v. UNITED STATES.   No. 71-1017. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued April 19-20, 1972. Decided June 29, 1972.[*] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT.*607 Robert J. Reinstein and Charles L. Fishman argued the cause for petitioner in No. 71-1017 and for respondent in No. 71-1026. With them on the briefs were Harvey A. Silverglate and Alan M. Dershowitz. Solicitor General Griswold argued the cause for the United States in both cases. With him on the briefs were Assistant Attorney General Mardian, Jerome M. Feit, Allan A. Tuttle, […]

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On December 11, 1972, we noted probable jurisdiction of this appeal, 409 U. S. 1058, based on a jurisdictional statement presenting the single question whether the prohibition in § 9 (a) of the Hatch Act, now codified in 5 U. S. C. § 7324 (a) (2), against federal employees taking "an active part in political management or in political campaigns," is unconstitutional on its face. Section 7324 (a) provides:

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The California Elections Code forbids ballot position to an independent candidate for elective public office if he voted in the immediately preceding primary, § 6830 (c) (Supp. 1974),[1] or if he had a registered affiliation with a qualified political party at any time within one year prior to the immediately preceding primary election. § 6830 (d) (Supp. 1974). The independent candidate must also file nomination papers signed by voters not less *727 in number than 5% nor more than 6% of the entire vote cast in the preceding general election in the area for which the candidate seeks to run. § 6831 (1961). All of these signatures must be obtained during a 24-day period following the primary and ending 60 days prior to the general election, § 6833 (Supp. 1974), and none of the signatures may be gathered from persons who vote at the primary election. § 6830 (c) (Supp. 1974). The constitutionality of these provisions is challenged here as infringing on rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments and as adding qualifications for the office of United States Congressman, contrary to Art. I, § 2, cl. 2, of the Constitution.

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These cases began when appellants, minority political parties and their candidates, qualified voters supporting the minority party candidates, and independent unaffiliated candidates, brought four separate actions in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas against the Texas Secretary of State seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the enforcement of various sections of the Texas Election Code.

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There are other questions, but the principal issue presented for decision is whether a private cause of action for damages against corporate directors is to be implied in favor of a corporate stockholder under 18 U. S. C. § 610, a criminal statute prohibiting corporations from making "a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election at which Presidential and Vice Presidential electors . . . are to be voted for."[1] We conclude *69 that implication of such a federal cause of action is not suggested by the legislative context of § 610 or required to accomplish Congress' purposes in enacting the statute. We therefore have no occasion to address *70 the questions whether § 610, properly construed, proscribes the expenditures alleged in this case, or whether the statute is unconstitutional as violative of the First Amendment or of the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

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The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (Act), as amended in 1974, contained a large variety of restrictions on political campaign giving and spending. Various federal officeholders and candidates, supporting political organizations, and others brought suit against appellees (the Secretary of the Senate, Clerk of the House, Comptroller General, Attorney General, and the Commission) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against several statutory provisions on various constitutional grounds.

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In sustaining a state criminal statute that forbids certain expenditures by banks and business corporations for the purpose of influencing the vote on referendum proposals, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the First Amendment rights of a corporation are limited to issues that materially affect its business, property, or assets. The court rejected appellants' claim that the statute abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The issue presented in this context is one of first impression in this Court. We postponed the question of jurisdiction to our consideration of the merits. 430 U. S. 964 (1977). We now reverse.

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Under the Illinois Election Code, new political parties and independent candidates must obtain the signatures of 25,000 qualified voters in order to appear on the ballot in statewide elections.[1] However, a different standard applies in elections *176 for offices of political subdivisions of the State. The minimum number of signatures required for those elections is 5% of the number of persons who voted at the previous election for offices of the particular subdivision.[2] In the city of Chicago, application of this standard has produced the incongruous *177 result that a new party or an independent candidate needs substantially more signatures to gain access to the ballot than a similarly situated party or candidate for statewide office.[3] The question before us is whether this discrepancy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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The charter of the appellant Democratic Party of the United States (National Party) provides that delegates to its National Convention shall be chosen through procedures in which only Democrats can participate. Consistently with the charter, the National Party's Delegate Selection Rules provide that only those who are willing to affiliate publicly with the Democratic Party may participate in the process of selecting delegates to the Party's National Convention. The question on this appeal is whether Wisconsin may successfully insist that its delegates to the Convention be seated, even though those delegates are chosen through a process that includes a binding state preference primary election in which voters do not declare their party affiliation. The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the National Convention is bound by the Wisconsin primary election results, and cannot refuse to seat the delegates chosen in accord with Wisconsin law. 93 Wis. 2d 473, 287 N. W. 2d 519.

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453 U.S. 182 (1981) CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ET AL. v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ET AL.   No. 79-1952. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued January 19, 1981. Decided June 26, 1981. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.*184 Rick C. Zimmerman argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs was David E. Willett. Charles N. Steele argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief was Kathleen Imig Perkins.[*] Louis R. Cohen, A. Stephen Hut, Jr., Roger M. Witten, Kenneth J. Guido, Jr., and Ellen G. Block filed a brief for […]

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The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 86 Stat. 11, as amended, 2 U. S. C. § 431 et seq. (1976 ed. and Supp. IV), limits the contributions that may be made to candidates or political committees in an election for federal office. One provision of the Act, § 441a(d), authorizes limited expenditures by the national and state committees of a political party in connection with a general election campaign for federal office. After authorizing such expenditures, which otherwise would be impermissible,[1] the section specifies the amount a *29 national committee may spend in connection with a Presidential campaign, § 441a(d)(2), and limits the amount that national and state committees of a political party may spend in connection with the general election campaign of a candidate for the Senate or the House of Representatives, § 441a(d)(3). In this litigation we examine whether § 441a(d)(3) is violated when a state committee of a political party designates the national senatorial campaign committee of that party as its agent for the purpose of making expenditures allowed by the Act.

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The issue on appeal is whether a limitation of $250 on contributions to committees formed to support or oppose ballot measures violates the First Amendment.

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Section 310(a) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA), 88 Stat. 1285, as amended, 2 U. S. C. § 437h(a) (1976 ed., Supp. IV), lists three categories of plaintiffs who may challenge the constitutional validity of FECA in specially expedited suits: (1) the Federal Election Commission (FEC), (2) "the national committee of any political party," and (3) "any individual eligible to vote in any election for the office of President." In this case, we address a question we expressly reserved in California Medical Assn. v. FEC, 453 U. S. 182, 187, n. 6 (1981): whether a party not belonging to one of the three categories listed in § 437h(a) may nonetheless invoke its procedures.

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The question presented is whether the First Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, *47 prohibits a State from declaring an election void because the victorious candidate had announced to the voters during his campaign that he intended to serve at a salary less than that "fixed by law."

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This case presents the question whether certain disclosure requirements of the Ohio Campaign Expense Reporting Law, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3517.01 et seq. (1972 and Supp. 1981), can be constitutionally applied to the Socialist Workers Party, a minor political party which historically has been the object of harassment by government officials and private parties. The Ohio statute requires every political party to report the names and addresses of campaign contributors and recipients of campaign disbursements. In Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1 (1976), this Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling disclosures by a minor political party that can show a "reasonable probability" that the compelled disclosures will subject those identified to "threats, harassment, or reprisals." Id., at 74. Employing this test, a three-judge District Court for the Southern District of Ohio held that the Ohio statute is unconstitutional as applied to the Socialist Workers Party. We affirm.

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The question in the case ultimately comes down to whether respondent National Right to Work Committee (NRWC or respondent) limited its solicitation of funds to "members" within the meaning of 2 U. S. C. § 441b(b)(4)(C).[1]In April 1977, petitioner Federal Election Commission (Commission)[2] determined that there was probable cause to *199 believe that NRWC had violated the above-cited provisions of the Act by soliciting contributions from persons who were not its "members." Shortly thereafter, respondent filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia seeking injunctive and declaratory relief against the Commission. One month later, the Commission filed an enforcement proceeding against respondent in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to establish respondent's violation of 2 U. S. C. § 441b. The actions were consolidated in the latter court, which granted summary judgment in favor of the Commission on the basis of stipulated facts. 501 F. Supp. 422 (1980).[3] The judgment of the District Court was reversed by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 214 U. S. App. D. C. 215, 665 F. 2d 371 (1981), and we granted certiorari. 456 U. S. 914 (1982).

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On April 24, 1980, petitioner John Anderson announced that he was an independent candidate for the office of President of the United States. Thereafter, his supporters — by gathering the signatures of registered voters, filing required documents, and submitting filing fees — were able to meet the substantive requirements for having his name placed on the ballot for the general election in November 1980 in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. On April 24, however, it was already too late for Anderson to qualify for a position on the ballot in Ohio and certain other States because the statutory deadlines for filing a statement of candidacy had already passed. The question presented by this case is whether Ohio's early filing deadline placed an unconstitutional burden on the voting and associational rights of Anderson's supporters.

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[††]The Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act (Fund Act), 26 U. S. C. § 9001 et seq., offers the Presidential candidates of major political parties the option of receiving public financing for their general election campaigns. If a Presidential candidate elects public financing, § 9012(f) makes it a criminal offense for independent "political committees," such as appellees National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) and Fund For A Conservative Majority (FCM), to expend more than $1,000 to further that candidate's election. A three-judge District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in companion lawsuits brought respectively by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and by the Democratic Party of the United States and the Democratic National *483 Committee (DNC), held § 9012(f) unconstitutional on its face because it violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. These plaintiffs challenge that determination on this appeal, and the FEC also appeals from that part of the judgment holding that the Democratic Party and the DNC have standing under 26 U. S. C. § 9011(b)(1) to seek a declaratory judgment against appellees upholding the constitutionality of § 9012(f). We noted probable jurisdiction pursuant to the statutory appeal provision of § 9011(b)(2), which provides for a direct appeal to this Court from three-judge district courts convened in proceedings under § 9011(b)(1). 466 U. S. 935 (1984). We reverse the judgment of the District Court on the issue of the standing of the Democratic Party and the DNC, but affirm its judgment as to the constitutional validity of § 9012(f).

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The State of Washington requires that a minor-party candidate for partisan office receive at least 1% of all votes cast for that office in the State's primary election before the candidate's name will be placed on the general election ballot. The question for decision is whether this statutory requirement, *191 as applied to candidates for statewide offices, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declared the provision unconstitutional. 765 F. 2d 1417 (1985). We reverse.

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Appellee Republican Party of the State of Connecticut (Party) in 1984 adopted a Party rule which permits independent voters — registered voters not affiliated with any political party — to vote in Republican primaries for federal and statewide offices. Appellant Julia Tashjian, the Secretary of the State of Connecticut, is charged with the administration of the State's election statutes, which include a provision requiring voters in any party primary to be registered members *211 of that party. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-431 (1985).[1] Appellees, who in addition to the Party include the Party's federal officeholders and the Party's state chairman, challenged this eligibility provision on the ground that it deprives the Party of its First Amendment right to enter into political association with individuals of its own choosing. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of appellees. 599 F. Supp. 1228 (Conn. 1984). The Court of Appeals affirmed. 770 F. 2d 265 (CA2 1985). We noted probable jurisdiction, 474 U. S. 1049 (1986), and now affirm.

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479 U.S. 238 (1986) FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION v. MASSACHUSETTS CITIZENS FOR LIFE, INC.   No. 85-701. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued October 7, 1986 Decided December 15, 1986 APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT*240 Charles N. Steele argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs was Richard B. Bader. Francis H. Fox argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was E. Susan Garsh.[*] Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Marjorie Heins, Burt Neuborne, and Jack Novik; […]

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In Colorado the proponents of a new law, or an amendment to the State Constitution, may have their proposal placed on the ballot at a general election if they can obtain enough signatures of qualified voters on an "initiative petition" within *416 a 6-month period. One section of the state law regulating the initiative process makes it a felony to pay petition circulators.[1] The question in this case is whether that provision is unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that the statute abridged appellees' right to engage in political speech and therefore violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution. We agree.

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The California Elections Code prohibits the official governing bodies of political parties from endorsing candidates in party primaries. It also dictates the organization and composition of those bodies, limits the term of office of a party chair, and requires that the chair rotate between residents of northern and southern California. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that these provisions violate the free speech and associational rights of political parties and their members guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. 826 F. 2d 814 (1987). We noted probable jurisdiction, 485 U. S. 1004 (1988), and now affirm.

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Overruled

In this appeal, we must determine whether § 54(1) of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, 1976 Mich. Pub. Acts 388, violates either the First or the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Section 54(1) prohibits corporations from using corporate treasury funds for independent expenditures in support of, or in opposition to, any candidate in elections for state office. Mich. Comp. Laws § 169.254(1) (1979). Corporations *655 are allowed, however, to make such expenditures from segregated funds used solely for political purposes. § 169.255(1). In response to a challenge brought by the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), the Sixth Circuit held that § 54(1) could not be applied to the Chamber, a Michigan nonprofit corporation, without violating the First Amendment. 856 F. 2d 783 (1988). Although we agree that expressive rights are implicated in this case, we hold that application of § 54(1) to the Chamber is constitutional because the provision is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

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The Petitioners in this case sought to expand the Harold Washington Party, an established party within the City of Chicago, to the surrounding suburbs within Cook County. Under Illinois law, the organizers of a new political party must collect 25,000 signatures of eligible voters in order to field a candidate for state office. If the organizers wish to run candidates solely for offices within a large political subdivision, such as Cook County, they must obtain 25,000 signatures from that subdivision. If the subdivision is comprised of separate "districts," the organizers must obtain 25,000 signatures from each district. Cook County contains two districts city and suburban. Illinois law also provides that a new political party may not use the name of an established political party. The Petitioners gathered 44,000 signatures from the city district, but only 7,800 signatures from the suburban district. When the Petitioners' slate of candidates was challenged on several grounds, the Cook County Officers Electoral Board ruled that the Petitioners could use the Harold Washington Party name in the suburban district elections and that the failure to gather 25,000 signatures from the suburban district disqualified the candidates who were running only for suburban district offices, but did not disqualify the party's candidates running for city and county-side seats. On appeal, the trial court affirmed the Board's ruling on the use of the party name but held that the failure to obtain 25,000 signatures from the suburban district doomed the entire slate of candidates. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Illinois law prohibited use of the party name and that the inability to obtain 25,000 signatures in the suburban district required disqualification of the entire slate of candidates. A court considering a challenge to an election law must balance the magnitude of the injury to the challenger's First Amendment rights against the offered justifications for the law, taking into account the extent to which the justifications make it necessary to burden the challenger's rights. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983). When the challenger's rights are subjected to severe restrictions, the regulation must be narrowly drawn to advance a compelling state interest. Illinois Elections Bd. v. Socialist Workers Party, 440 U.S. 173 (1979). When the restrictions are only reasonable and nondiscriminatory, however, the state's important regulatory interests are generally sufficient to justify the restrictions. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983).

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A Tennessee statute prohibits the solicitation of votes and the display or distribution of campaign materials within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place. Mary Rebecca Freeman, the treasurer for the campaign of a city council candidate in Nashville, challenged the statute in Tennessee state court. Freeman argued that the statute violated the freedom of speech provisions in the Tennessee and United States Constitutions. The trial judge rejected her challenge. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute was unconstitutional.

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A Hawaii statute prohibits voters in both primary and general elections from casting write-in votes. Because Hawaii traditionally has been dominated by the Democratic party, voters in many races have a choice only between voting for the Democratic candidate or not voting at all. A voter challenged the write-in ban on the grounds that it deprived him of the opportunity to vote for the candidate of his choice. The federal district court agreed, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit expressly declined to follow a contrary holding by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Dixon v. Maryland State Administrative Bd. of Election Laws, 878 F.2d 776 (4th Cir. 1989). A court considering a challenge to an election law must balance the magnitude of the injury to the challenger's First Amendment rights against the offered justifications for the law, taking into account the extent to which the justifications make it necessary to burden the challenger's rights. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983). When the challenger's rights are subjected to severe restrictions, the regulation must be narrowly drawn to advance a compelling state interest. Norman v. Reed, 502 U.S. 279 (1992). When the restrictions are only reasonable and nondiscriminatory, however, the state's important regulatory interests generally are sufficient to justify the restrictions. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983).

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Margaret McIntyre, a resident of Westerville, Ohio, opposed her local school district's request for a tax levy. She expressed her opposition by preparing and distributing a handbill to persons attending a meeting concerning the levy. Some of the handbills identified her as the author, but others were signed "CONCERNED PARENTS AND TAX PAYERS." The handbills were not false, misleading, or libelous. A school official informed Mrs. McIntyre that the handbills did not conform to Ohio's election laws because they did not identify the author. Mrs. McIntyre nevertheless distributed the handbills at another meeting. The Ohio Elections Commission found that Mrs. McIntyre's conduct was unlawful and fined her $100. The local trial court reversed the Commission's decision, holding that the prohibition against anonymous handbilling was unconstitutional as it was applied to Mrs. McIntyre. The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and reinstated the fine. The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's decision. In 1960, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an author's decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960). Regulation of political speech is not permitted under the First Amendment unless the restriction is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. First Nat'l Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978). In 1989, the Court held that states have a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of their electorial process. Eu v. San Francisco City Democratic Central Comm., 489 U.S. 214 (1989). The Court had never before been asked to decide whether states could ban anonymous polictical handbilling.

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The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 U.S.C. _ 431 et seq., imposes limits on contributions to candidates for federal office. The Act, for example, provides that individuals may contribute no more than $1,000 to any candidate with respect to any election. 2 U.S.C. _ 441a. The Act similarly provides that multicandidate political committees may contribute no more than $5,000 to any candidate. Expenditures that are made by a person or committee in cooperation with a candidate are deemed to be contributions under the Act. Political committee expenditures are also deemed to be contributions attributable to a particular candidate if the expenditures create a communication that refers to a clearly identified candidate and contains an electioneering message. In Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), the Court held that limitations on expenditures for political speech must be necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest and must be narrowly tailored to advance that interest. In Buckley, the Court also held that the First Amendment prohibited restrictions on an individual's ability to make expenditures not coordinated with a candidate. In Federal Election Commission v. National Conservative Political Action Committee, 470 U.S. 480 (1985), the Court extended the holdings in Buckley to apply to "independent" expenditures made by political committees. In early 1986, the Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee sponsored radio advertisements critical of then-Representative Tim Wirth, a Democrat seeking his party's nomination for the U.S. Senate. At the time that the advertisement was broadcast, the Republican Party had not yet nominated a candidate for the Senate seat. After the Colorado Democratic Party filed an administrative complaint under the Act, the Federal Election Commission determined that the expenditure for the advertisement was a coordinated party expenditure subject to the limitations of the Act. The FEC then filed a civil complaint in the federal district court, claiming that the Republican Committee had exceeded the limits set forth in the Act. The Committee argued that the advertisement was not an expenditure in connection with a general election and that the Act violated the Committee's rights of free speech and association. The district court agreed that the expenditure was not made in connection with a general election and that it therefore was not subject to the Act. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the advertisement was subject to the Act because it was directed at a clearly identified candidate and contained an electioneering message. The court of appeals also rejected the Committee's First Amendment argument.

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A Minnesota law prohibits ballot fusion, which is a practice that allows political candidates to appear on the ballot as the nominee of more than one party. While widespread in the 19th century, this practice now is prohibited in most states. These prohibitions tend to inhibit the growth of third parties by reducing their ability to ally themselves with established parties. The candidate in the Minnesota case, Andy Dawkins, was running unopposed as the nominee of the "major" Democratic-Farm-Labor party for a state representative seat. The Twin Cities Area New Party, a "minor" party under Minnesota law, wished to nominate Dawkins as its candidate for the same seat, and Dawkins was willing to appear on the ballot as a multi-party candidate. The Democratic-Farm-Labor party did not object to the New Party's nomination of Dawkins. Under the Minnesota non-fushion law, however, Dawkins was prohibited from appearing on the ballot as the nominee of the New Party. The New Party sued, but the district court upheld the Minnesota law. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Minnesota law severely burdened the New Party's associational rights and that the law was not narrowly tailored to achieve the law's stated purposes. When deciding whether a state election law violates the First Amendment, the Court is to balance the statute's burden on expression against the purposes the law is designed to serve. Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428 (1992). If the burden is significant, the statute must further a compelling state interest. If the burden is not as great, the law will be upheld if it advances an "important," though not necessarily compelling, interest.Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983).

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The Arkansas Educational Television Commission, a state agency, sponsored a debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Arkansas' Third Congressional District. The Commission only invited the two major party candidates and excluded Ralph Forbes, a legally qualified independent candidate. AETC determined Forbes did not have sufficient "political viability" for inclusion. Forbes sued the agency. After a federal district court dismissed the claim, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit reversed, finding that AETC had created a limited public forum to which Forbes had a presumptive right of access. Forbes v. Arkansas Educational Television Commission, 93 F.3d 497 (8th Cir. 1996). The appeals court determined that AETC's assessment of "political viability" was not a compelling enough interest nor narrowly tailored enough reason to pass constitutional review. The Court analyzes right of access cases using the public forum doctrine. There are three types of fora: traditional public fora, limited or designated public fora and nonpublic fora. Perry Ed. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. 37 (1983). Even in a nonpublic forum, government officials cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, discriminate based on viewpoint. Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819 (1995). However, television broadcasters enjoy &"the widest possible journalistic freedom" consistent with their public responsibilities. FCC v. League of Women Voters of Cal., 468 U.S. 364 (1984).

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Colorado amended the state law regulating the ballot initiative and referendum petition process. Several plaintiffs, including the public interest group American Constitutional Law Foundation, Inc., sued. The group claimed various provisions of the law violated First Amendment political free-speech rights: (1) a six-month restriction on when circulations must be filed; (2) a requirement that all circulators sign an affidavit; (3) requirement that circulators be 18 years or older; (4) a requirement that circulators be registered Colorado voters; (5) a requirement that circulators wear identification badges; and (6) disclosure requirements. The appeals court upheld the six-month restriction, the age of majority requirement and the affidavit-signing provisions. However, the appeals court ruled that the registered voter, badge identification and disclosure requirements infringed on First Amendment rights. The circulating of petitions during elections represents core political speech which receives the highest level of protection under the First Amendment. Meyer v. Grant, 486 U.S. 414 (1988). Though a state may regulate such activity, the state must show that its regulations serve a compelling state interest without burdening speech. However, states must have the ability to regulate elections to ensure a fair and honest democratic process. Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724 (1974).

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In 1994 Missouri enacted a statute limiting contributions to candidates for state and local offices. Shrink Missouri Government PAC (a political action committee) and Zev David Fredman (a candidate for state auditor) sued the parties responsible for enforcing the statute, challenging its constitutionality. They claimed that the contribution limits violated their First Amendment free-speech rights and that Fredman could not run an effective campaign with the limits in place. The district court upheld Missouri's campaign-contribution limits. The court of appeals reversed the judgment of the district court and held that the Missouri campaign limits violate the First Amendment. In Buckley, the Supreme Court struck down federal expenditure regulations as violating the First Amendment, but upheld contribution restrictions. The Respondents in this case claim that the State must justify the imposition of these limits by showing actual evidence of their claim that the absence of limits encourages corruption in the political process.

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This case presents the question whether the State of California may, consistent with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, use a so-called "blanket" primary to determine a political party's nominee for the general election.

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In U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U. S. 779 (1995), we reviewed a challenge to an Arkansas law that prohibited the name of an otherwise eligible candidate for the United States Congress from appearing on the general election ballot if he or she had already served three terms in the House of Representatives or two terms in the Senate. We held that the ballot restriction was an indirect attempt to impose term limits on congressional incumbents that violated the Qualifications Clauses in Article I of the Constitution rather than a permissible exercise of the State's power to regulate the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives" within the meaning of Article I, § 4, cl. 1.

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In 1986, the Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee paid for several radio ads attacking the voting record of Tim Wirth, the potential Democratic senatorial candidate. The ads ran before the Republican nominee for senator had been selected. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) filed an action alleging that the party had violated the Party Expenditure Provision (PEP) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 by exceeding spending limits for political parties. The Colorado Republican Party sued in federal court, claiming that the provision violated the First Amendment. The case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. Federal Election Commission, 518 U.S. 604 (1996)("Colorado I") that the provision could not be applied to independent expenditures by political parties. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a plurality decision that the PEP was unconstitutional as applied to the particular expenditure at issue. The Court characterized the radio ads as "independent expenditures" (not subject to the PEP) as opposed to "coordinated expenditures" (subject to the PEP). The majority determined the Wirth ads were "independent expenditures" because the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party had approved the ad and had not consulted with the respective Republican candidates. The Colorado I court then remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings with regard to the broader issue of whether the PEP of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 violates a political party's First Amendment rights by limiting the amount of money a party may spend in "coordination" with its congressional candidates. Four justices in Colorado I (Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy and Rehnquist) ruled that they would have struck down the PEP with regards to both independent and coordinated expenditures. In 1999, the U.S. District Court granted summary judgment to the Colorado Republican Party, ruling that the limits on political parties' coordinated expenditures violated the First Amendment. In May of 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit affirmed. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on Oct. 10, 2000.

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Since 1907, federal law has barred corporations from contributing directly to candidates for federal office. We hold that applying the prohibition to nonprofit advocacy corporations is consistent with the First Amendment.

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Overruled

540 U.S. 93 (2003) McCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR, ET AL. v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ET AL.   No. 02-1674. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued September 8, 2003. Decided December 10, 2003[*] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA*94 *95 *96 *97 *98 *99 *100 *101 *102 *103 *104 *105 *106 *107 *108 *109 *110 STEVENS and O’CONNOR, JJ., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles […]

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546 U.S. 410 (2006) WISCONSIN RIGHT TO LIFE, INC. v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION.   No. 04-1581. Supreme Court of United States.   Argued January 17, 2006. Decided January 23, 2006.James Bopp, Jr., argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Richard E. Coleson and M. Miller Baker. Solicitor General Clement argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Deputy Solicitor General Garre, Malcolm L. Stewart, Lawrence H. Norton, Richard B. Bader, David Kolker, and Harry J. Summers.[*] *411 PER CURIAM. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), § 203, as amended, 116 Stat. […]

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(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2005 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus RANDALL ET AL. v. SORRELL ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT […]

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127 S.Ct. 2652 (2007) FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, Appellant, v. WISCONSIN RIGHT TO LIFE, INC. Senator John McCain, et al., Appellants, v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.     Nos. 06-969, 06-970. Supreme Court of United States.    Argued April 25, 2007. Decided June 25, 2007.*2658 Paul D. Clement, Solicitor General, Washington, DC, for appellant in No. 06-969.Seth P. Waxman, for appellants in No. 06-970. James Bopp, Jr., Terre Haute, IN, for appellee. Paul D. Clement, Solicitor General, Counsel of Record, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for appellant. M. Miller Baker, Michael S. Nadel, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Washington, DC, […]

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In 2004, voters in the State of Washington passed an initiative changing the State's primary election system. The People's Choice Initiative of 2004, or Initiative 872 (I-872), provides that candidates for office shall be identified on the ballot by their self-designated "party preference"; that voters may vote for any candidate; and that the top two votegetters for each office, regardless of party preference, advance to the general election. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held I-872 facially invalid as imposing an unconstitutional burden on state political parties' First Amendment rights. Because I-872 does not on its face impose a severe burden on political parties' associational rights, and because respondents' arguments to the contrary rest on factual assumptions about voter confusion that can be evaluated only in the context of an as-applied challenge, we reverse.

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128 S.Ct. 2759 (2008) Jack DAVIS, Appellant, v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION. No. 07-320. Supreme Court of United States. Argued April 22, 2008. Decided June 26, 2008. *2765 Andrew D. Herman, for Appellant. Paul D. Clement, for Appellee. Thomasenia P. Duncan, David Kolker, Associate General Counsel, Kevin Deeley, Assistant General Counsel, Holly J. Baker, Claire N. Rajan, Washington, D.C., Paul D. Clement, Gregory G. Garre, Deputy Solicitor General, Malcolm L. Stewart, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Washington, D.C., for Appellee. Andrew D. Herman, Stanley M. Brand, Brand Law Group, PC, Washington, D.C., Elizabeth F. Getman, Sandler, Reiff & Young, P.C., Washington, […]

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The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate. 2 U. S. C. §441b. An electioneering communication is “any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication” that “refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office” and is made within 30 days of a primary election, §434(f)(3)(A), and that is “publicly distributed,” 11 CFR §100.29(a)(2), which in “the case of a candidate for nomination for President … means” that the communication “[c]an be received by 50,000 or more persons in a State where a primary election … is being held within 30 days,” §100.29(b)(3)(ii). In January 2008, appellant Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, released a documentary (hereinafter Hillary) critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton, a candidate for her party’s Presidential nomination. Anticipating that it would make Hillary available on cable television through video-on-demand within 30 days of primary elections, Citizens United produced television ads to run on broadcast and cable television. Concerned about possible civil and criminal penalties for violating §441b, it sought declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that (1) §441b is unconstitutional as applied to Hillary; and (2) BCRA’s disclaimer, disclosure, and reporting requirements, BCRA §§201 and 311, were unconstitutional as applied to Hillary and the ads.

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(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2010 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus ARIZONA FREE ENTERPRISE CLUB’S FREEDOM CLUB PAC ET AL. v. BENNETT, SECRETARY OF STATE OF ARIZONA, ET AL. CERTIORARI […]

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The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA), as amended by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), imposes two types of limits on campaign contributions. Base limits restrict how much money a donor may contribute to a particular candidate or committee while aggregate limits restrict how much money a donor may contribute in total to all candidates or committees. 2 U. S. C. §441a. In the 2011–2012 election cycle, appellant McCutcheon contributed to 16 different federal candidates, complying with the base limits applicable to each. He alleges that the aggregate limits prevented him from contributing to 12 additional candidates and to a number of noncandidate political committees. He also alleges that he wishes to make similar contributions in the future, all within the base limits. McCutcheon and appellant Republican National Committee filed a complaint before a three-judge District Court, asserting that the aggregate limits were unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

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(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2014 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus WILLIAMS-YULEE v. FLORIDA BAR CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA No. 13–1499. Argued January 20, 2015—Decided April 29, […]

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