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U.S. Supreme Court

Is Supreme Court Summary Affirmance a Retreat from Citizens United?

Posted Jan 10, 2012 8:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday summarily affirmed a decision upholding a ban on foreign nationals donating money to political candidates.

The case was viewed as a possible sequel to the controversial Citizens United decision finding corporations have a First Amendment right to support political candidates, according to the Christian Science Monitor News Service. The summary affirmance “signals a possible retreat—in a presidential election year—from the expansive free speech principles championed by the high court,” the story says.

SCOTUSblog, however, says nothing about the ruling casts doubt on the continuing right of corporations and labor unions under Citizens United to make independent expenditures on behalf of federal candidates. Instead, the blog says, the summary affirmance indicates there could be a "significant exception" to the Citizens United holding "that Congress could not vary campaign finance rights on the identity of the spender."

At issue in Bluman v. FEC was whether the ban on donations by foreign citizens was a violation of the First Amendment, according to a report last summer on the federal appeals court ruling by The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

One of the plaintiffs was Sidley Austin associate Benjamin Bluman, who is Canadian. He says he wants to donate to President Obama and other Democratic candidates.

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