Supreme Court Sides with Broadcasters in Landmark Case

Jan 22, 2010, 11:09 ET from Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice

Overturns McCain-Feingold's Electioneering Communication Prohibitions

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Supreme Court struck down longstanding federal laws that prohibit corporations from directly financing election ads in a decision released on January 21, 2010.   The Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission agreed with the position advocated by Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC in a brief filed on behalf of ten State broadcasters associations.  Corporations are now free to purchase ads that expressly support or oppose candidates, and so-called "electioneering communications" – broadcast ads referring to candidates which air in the periods immediately before elections.   

"The Citizens United decision is a strong affirmation of the First Amendment rights of media corporations," said Womble Carlyle Communications Attorney Gregg Skall.  "We are pleased that the Court recognized and protected the broadcast industry's vital role in the dissemination of political information to the public."  

Womble Carlyle had argued in its brief that the McCain-Feingold law's prohibition on corporate funding of "electioneering communications" was unconstitutional because it unfairly impacted  broadcast  media in ways not applied to other media.  The Supreme Court held that there "simply is no support for the view that the First Amendment ... would permit the suppression of political speech by media corporations."  

Womble Carlyle submitted the brief on behalf of ten State broadcasters associations:  California Broadcasters Association, Illinois Broadcasters Association, Louisiana Broadcasters Association, Maine Association of Broadcasters, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Minnesota Broadcasters Association, Missouri Broadcasters Association, Nebraska Broadcasters Association, New York State Broadcasters Association, and Tennessee Broadcasters Association.  

The brief was prepared by Womble Carlyle lawyers Lawrence H. Norton, James A. Kahl, and Gregg P. Skall.  

The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is available at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09slipopinion.html

To contact:

Lawrence H. Norton (202.857.4429) LNorton@wcsr.com

James A. Kahl (202.857.4417) JKahl@wcsr.com

Gregg P. Skall (202.857.4441) GSkall@wcsr.com

Reach Director of Media Relations Russell Thomas at 202.857.4517 or Rthomas@wcsr.com  


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