SCOTUS: Citizens United ruling does not extend to foreigners living in the US

On January 9, 2012 the Supreme Court of the United States released its opinion in Bluman v. Federal Elections Commission, which had asked whether Congress had violated the First Amendment by barring foreign nationals living in the United States from making campaign contributions or expenditures connected with an election. The Court ruled that Congress had not violated the constitution, as foreign nationals have no constitutional right to put private funds into an election in the U.S.A.

This ruling is significant for its relationship with an earlier ruling in Citizens United. As Lyle Denniston explains:

The Court thus made clear that its deeply controversial ruling of two years ago, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, did not extend beyond U.S. citizens (including corporations). [...] Nothing about the summary ruling, though, cast any doubt on the continuing right of corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want on federal candidates, so long as they do so independently of a candidate or candidate’s organization and are willing — most of the time — to disclose what they have done.

For more commentary on this case, see the discussion between six legal and policy thinkers in “Foreign Money Swaying Voters?” at The New York Times.

Category: Discrimination, Freedom of expression / Liberté d'expression, Government accountability / L'imputabilité du gouvernement

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