Citizens United v. FEC (2)

Amici brief in Citizens United v. FEC (2)
(Addressing Supplemental Question)

Benjamin Barr

Filed: July 31, 2009 (U.S. Supreme Court)

Issue:
Should the Court overrule either or both Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), and the part of McConnell v. Federal Election Comm’n (2003) which addresses the facial validity of Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002?

Summary:
This second brief—also joined by the Goldwater Institute—responds to a prompt from the Supreme Court after it read initial briefs and heard oral arguments in Citizens United.  The Supreme Court took the unusual, but necessary, step of refocusing its consideration to overturning previous case law.

This brief provides a brief history of speech suppression, and attacks the egalitarian premise that “pure” and “impure” speech can be discerned by any governing body.  Finally, it urges a return to First Principles: under the First Amendment, “citizens, not roving clean-election-speech squads, are best equipped to decide the merits of publican arguments presented.”

Outcome:
Although this brief was not cited by the Supreme Court’s majority in its opinion, the principles the brief advocates were present throughout.  Thanks to Citizens United, individuals and voluntary associations hold more power to speak and discern—power previously left in the hands of the federal government.

Click here to read the brief.

The full opinion is available here.

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