ON-Lion Letter
Citizens' groups are now free to speak out in elections, thanks to the unanimous en banc ruling in SpeechNow.org v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) by all nine active judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in March.  The ruling is the first major application of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which expanded the free-speech rights of corporations and unions to participate in elections.
 
Holding that, under Citizens United, "the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting contributions to an independent expenditure group," Chief Judge David Sentelle, in an opinion joined by all eight other judges on the circuit, struck down federal campaign-finance laws that made it practically impossible for new and independent groups of individuals to join together and advocate for the election or defeat of political candidates.
 
This is a tremendous victory for free speech, according to Institute for Justice (IJ) senior attorney Steve Simpson, who argued the case before the D.C. Circuit.  "This decision ensures that all Americans can band together to make their voices heard during elections."

IJ and the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed the First Amendment challenge to the laws in February 2008 on behalf of SpeechNow.org, a group of citizens that want to pool their money to run independent political ads for or against candidates based on their support for the First Amendment.   SpeechNow.org accepts money only from individuals -- not corporations or unions -- and does not make any contributions to political candidates or parties.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports both IJ and CCP.
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