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Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 551 U.S. 449.

Brief Fact Summary. The Wisconsin Right to Life group, ran ads during black-out periods (days when ads are not allowed) concerning political ideas, in violation of section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).


Synopsis of Rule of Law.  In determining if there is a violation of the BCRA section 203 that prevents communications of the names of federal candidates, the court uses a substance in communication standard, rather than an intent-based standard.


Facts. The Wisconsin Right to Life group broadcasted a political ad during election season. This ad urged people to call Senator Feingold to protest the Senate’s filibuster of judicial nominees. The organization sought a declaratory judgment permitting broadcasting of similar ads during the blackout period. The BCRA establishes restrictions on ads 60 and 30 days before certain elections. The specific section challenged here is 203 that prohibit certain ads.


Issue. Whether section 203 of the BCRA which prohibits corporations from broadcasting the names of federal candidates shortly before an election is an overly broad restriction of the Freedom of Speech


Content Type: Brief


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