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Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life

Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: March 22, 2007

What's at Stake

Considering how groups, like the ACLU, can establish a First Amendment right to broadcast "genuine" issue ads in the period preceding an election despite a federal law ban on any broadcast ad that names a candidate for office regardless of the ads purpose or effect. DECIDED

Summary

In 2002, Congress adopted a campaign finance law that, among other things, barred even nonprofit corporations like the ACLU from broadcasting any ad that named a federal candidate 30 days before a primary election or 60 days prior to a general election. The facial validity of that prohibition was upheld by the Supreme Court four years ago. The question now before the Court is how groups, like the ACLU, can establish a First Amendment right to broadcast “genuine” issue ads despite the law’s otherwise absolute prohibition. Without a meaningful First Amendment exception, the ACLU could not even broadcast an ad in the pre-election period asking people to urge their representatives to restore the right to habeas corpus that Congress eliminated in the Military Commissions Act, passed last fall.

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