Alexandria, Va. A U.S. judge has ruled that the campaign finance law banning corporations from making contributions to federal candidates is unconstitutional, saying that a recent Supreme Court decision gives companies the same right to donate as individual citizens enjoy.
In a ruling issued late Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Cacheris tossed out part of an indictment against two people charged with illegally reimbursing donors to Hillary Clinton’s 2006 Senate and 2008 presidential campaigns.
Cacheris says under the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision last year, corporations have the right to give to federal candidates.
The ruling from the federal judge in Virginia is the first of its kind. The Citizens United case had applied only to corporate spending on campaign activities by independent groups, such as ads run by third parties to favor one side, not to direct contributions to the candidates themselves.
Cacheris noted in his ruling that only one other court has addressed the issue in the wake of Citizens United ruling. A federal judge in Minnesota ruled the other way, allowing a state ban on corporate contributions to stand.
“(F)or better or worse, Citizens United held that there is no distinction between an individual and a corporation with respect to political speech,” Cacheris wrote in his 52-page opinion.