Gavel Grab

Judge Upholds, Refines Corporate Giving Ruling

Federal District Judge James Cacheris has reaffirmed most of his earlier opinion that struck down a century-old federal ban on direct corporate contributions to federal candidates.

Judge Cacheris issued his opinion and order Tuesday. He denied reconsideration of his earlier ruling except to clarify it by stating that the federal ban on corporate contributions to federal campaigns “is unconstitutional as applied to the circumstances of this case, as opposed to being unconstitutional as applied to all corporate donations.”

In other words, summarized Lyle Denniston of SCOTUS blog, “instead of striking down that ban for all corporate donations to candidates, U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris of Alexandria said he was doing so only for the criminal case before him — U.S. v. Danielczyk.”

In his initial ruling, Judge Cacheris said that under the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision from 2010, corporations and individuals have the same rights to give money to campaigns. He agreed to hold a rehearing after some election law experts and editorialists had questioned whether he ignored a Supreme Court ruling from 2003 in Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, in which the federal ban was upheld.

On Tuesday, Judge Cacheris said  Citizens United had overridden the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Beaumont, according to SCOTUS blog.

Scholar Rick Hasen wrote in his Election Law blog that the government might consider making a direct appeal to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, if it could do so, or “there will be great uncertainty going into the 2012 election season about an important constitutional question.”

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  1. […] ruling that struck down a federal ban on direct corporate contributions to federal candidates (see Gavel Grab) is expected to be not the final word, but to ignite further legal […]

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