Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce

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Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued October 31, 1989
Decided March 27, 1990
Full case name Austin, Michigan Secretary of State, et al. v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Citations 494 U.S. 652 (more)
110 S. Ct. 1391; 108 L. Ed. 2d 652; 1990 U.S. LEXIS 1665; 58 U.S.L.W. 4371
Holding
The Michigan Campaign Finance Act, which prohibited corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates in elections, did not violate the First or the Fourteenth Amendment.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Marshall, joined by Rehnquist, Brennan, White, Blackmun, Stevens
Concurrence Brennan
Concurrence Stevens
Dissent Scalia
Dissent Kennedy, joined by O'Connor, Scalia
Laws applied
First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution
Overruled by
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010)

Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, which prohibited corporations from using treasury money to make independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates in elections, did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court upheld the restriction on corporate speech "Corporate wealth can unfairly influence elections," and the Michigan law still allowed the corporation to make such expenditures from a segregated fund.

Background[edit]

The Michigan Campaign Finance Act banned corporations from spending treasury money on "independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates in elections for state offices." The Act had one loophole-if a corporation had an independent fund solely used for political purposes the law did not apply. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce sought to use its general funds to publish an advertisement in a local newspaper to support a candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives,[1]

Decision of the Supreme Court[edit]

Louis J. Caruso, Lansing, Michigan, argued on the side of the appellants (Michigan Chamber of Commerce). Richard D. McLellan, Lansing, Michigan, for appellee (Austin).[2]

The case recognized a state's compelling interest in combating a "different type of corruption in the political arena: the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public's support for the corporation's political ideas."

The decision was overruled by Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010).[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • 494 U.S. 652 (Full text of the decision courtesy of Findlaw.com)