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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court to Re-Hear Argument on the "Hillary Movie" Case

On September 9th, the nine Justices of the United States Supreme Court will end their summer recess early to return to Washington for a rare re-argument in what has turned out to be a momentus case: Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission.

The case involves federal regulation of the political documentary titled, "Hillary, The Movie", which took a critical look at the character and career of Ms Clinton back in her pre-presidential candidate days. The documentary was produced by a conservative advocacy group; Citizens United. The issue in the case arose when the group was denied permission from the FEC to distribute the short film via "on-demand" cable services.

Re-arguments at the high court are very rare, giving rise to speculation that the Supreme Court may be getting ready to issue a momentus decision. Such a decision comes at a critical time in our history relative to government control and influence over private business.

The chief issue in the case concerns application of the McCain-Feingold law which bans the use of corporate money in elections. Some argue this restriction puts a stake in the heart of free speech; others assert that the ban is necessary to avoid a flood of corporate election funding which would corrupt and pollute our democratic process. The FEC banned the Clinton documentary on the basis it was produced, in part, with corporate profits. Direct corporate-funding of political campaigns has been banned for more than 100-years in America (Tillman Act 1907).

The case also has a Michigan connection in that it could overturn a 1990 decision of the high court, Austin vs Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which upheld restrictions on corporate spending in election campaigns.

The Supreme Court's decision to re-hear oral argument has prompted the filing of more than 40 "amicus" briefs from such disparate groups as the NRA and the ACLU. Stay tuned.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, well-written, easy to understand and informative! Keep the blogs coming, Mr. Flynn.

September 4, 2009 at 8:16 AM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Here's a follow-up on this post. The WSJ law blog, one of the best, in my opinion, covered the actual re-argument. Here's a link to the post:

September 12, 2009 at 8:51 AM 

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