Government lawyer claims right to censor political-campaign books paid with corporate funds
The New York Times reports: A quirky case about a slashing documentary attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton would not seem to be the most obvious vehicle for a fundamental re-examination of the interplay between the First Amendment and campaign finance laws.
But by the end of an exceptionally lively argument at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, it seemed at least possible that five justices were prepared to overturn or significantly limit parts of the court’s 2003 decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which regulates the role of money in politics.
Several of the court’s more conservative justices reacted with incredulity to a series of answers from a government lawyer about the scope of Congressional authority to limit political speech. The lawyer, Malcolm L. Stewart, said Congress has the power to ban political books, signs and Internet videos, if they are paid for by corporations and distributed not long before an election.
Mr. Stewart added that there was no difference in principle between the 90-minute documentary about Mrs. Clinton, “Hillary: The Movie,” and a 30-second television advertisement.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the government’s uncompromising position could have dire consequences for the McCain-Feingold law. -- Justices Consider Campaign Finance Law
NPR's report is here.