The U.S. Supreme Court overruled two precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations by a 5-to-4 decision handed down yesterday in Citizens United v. FEC. Under previous Supreme Court precedent, corporations were barred from spending freely to support or oppose candidates. This decision has changed the law for corporate fundraising and will dramatically transform campaigning for president and Congress in the future.
Under the new decision, the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. The decision does not specifically address unions; however, the lift of the ban of corporate political spending will also apply to them. The majority also struck down part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also known as the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, that banned corporations and unions for paying for political ads.
Not all restrictions for corporate political spending in candidate elections were lifted. Some of the limits that remain are: corporations cannot provide money directly to federal candidates or national party committees and nonprofit groups that advocate for political candidates must still comply with disclosure requirements.