In the News: Wall Street Journal: The Next Battle in the Fight for Free Speech

WSJ: The Next Battle in the Fight for Free Speech

By Bradley A. Smith

No doubt you’ve heard of Oprah—one doesn’t even need to say her last name. She is so influential that a study by University of Maryland Profs. Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore found that her endorsement of Barack Obama was worth more than a million votes in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries—more than the difference between then-Sen. Obama and his main rival, Hillary Clinton.

 Chances are you’ve never heard of Shaun McCutcheon, who hopes to have a fraction of Oprah’s influence on elections. Mr. McCutcheon faces one problem: The federal government could jail him for five years if he implements his plan. So he has taken his case to court, and on Oct. 8 the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in McCutcheon v. FEC. This case could be as important to campaign-finance law as Citizens United v. FEC, which in 2010 restored the rights of corporations and unions to engage in political speech.

 Mr. McCutcheon owns a company that designs and builds electrical systems for projects such as clean coal-liquefaction. His financial success has allowed the longtime Republican activist to use his money to support GOP candidates.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.