Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce
|Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce|
|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)|
|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.|
|Majority||Marshall, joined by Rehnquist, Brennan, White, Blackmun, Stevens|
|Dissent||Kennedy, joined by O'Connor, Scalia|
|U.S. Const. amends. I, XIV|
|Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010)|
Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990), is a United States corporate law case of the Supreme Court of the United States holding 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, stating, "Corporate wealth can unfairly influence elections"; however, the Michigan law still allowed the corporation to make such expenditures from a segregated fund.
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,
Opinion of the Court
In an opinion by Justice Marshall, the Court held the Act did not violate the First or the Fourteenth Amendments. The Court 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."
Marshall concluded by noting the importance of the Act:
Michigan identified as a serious danger the significant possibility that corporate political expenditures will undermine the integrity of the political process, and it has implemented a narrowly tailored solution to that problem. By requiring corporations to make all independent political expenditures through a separate fund made up of money solicited expressly for political purposes, the Michigan Campaign Finance Act reduces the threat that huge corporate treasuries amassed with the aid of favorable state laws will be used to influence unfairly the outcome of elections.
Marshall was joined in the majority opinion by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices William Brennan, Byron White, Harry Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens. Justice Kennedy wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Scalia and O'Connor.
- United States corporate law
- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 494
- List of United States Supreme Court cases
- Lists of United States Supreme Court cases by volume
- List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Rehnquist Court
- Appearance of corruption
- Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)
- "Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerece". Oyez: Chicago-Kent College of Law. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
- Hasen, Richard L. (2010-01-21). "Money Grubbers: The Supreme Court kills campaign finance reform". Slate.
- Ryan, Daniel P. (2010). "Citizens United, Austin, and the Unconstitutionality of MCL Section 169.254(1)". Rochester, NY.