A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that the U.S. law banning direct corporate contributions to candidates is unconstitutional, the first such ruling since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision giving corporations and unions a bigger role in campaign spending.
U.S. District Judge James Cacheris made the ruling Thursday in a case involving federal charges against two men alleged to have made illegal donations to the Senate and presidential campaigns of now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Cacheris dismissed one of the counts against the men, saying the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission removed the legal underpinnings for the federal ban against direct contributions to a candidate.
“For better or worse, Citizens United held that there is no distinction between an individual and a corporation with respect to political speech,” the Alexandria judge wrote. “Thus, if an individual can make direct contributions . . . a corporation cannot be banned from doing the same thing.”