Bloomberg BNA: Supreme Court Backs FEC Disclosure Rules (In the News)

Bloomberg BNA: Supreme Court Backs FEC Disclosure Rules

By Kenneth P. Doyle

Federal Election Commission disclosure rules for political ads known as electioneering communications have been upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court (Independence Institute v. FEC, U.S., 16-743, affirmed 2/27/17)…

Lawyers for the Independence Institute, led by Allen Dickerson of the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), have acknowledged in court filings that previous rulings have “routinely” upheld FEC disclosure requirements. But, the challengers argued that this case presented “an opportunity to reverse this trend and broadly safeguard” a right to fund some political messages anonymously.

The institute’s lawyers argued that disclosure requirements can violate First Amendment free speech guarantees, unless the government has a strong interest in disclosure. They said the government’s “informational interest is particularly weak” in this case because it involved a radio ad focused on a legislative issue and didn’t mention anything about an election…

The center’s chairman, Bradley Smith, a former Republican FEC commissioner, said uncertainty over the limits of disclosure law has led to passage of “intrusive laws that provide little or no value to the public, and enable official and unofficial harassment of speakers.”

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