Federal District Judge James C. Cacheris has issued a new opinion that narrows his decision last month in U.S. v. Danielczyk, where he held that under the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C., the federal ban on corporations making direct contributions to federal political candidates is now unconstitutional. In the opinion he issued yesterday, Cacheris pulled back a bit, holding that the federal ban “is unconstitutional as applied to the circumstances of this case, as opposed to being unconstitutional as applied to all corporate donations.”
This revision is hardly going to settle the question, however, since Cacheris also maintained that, “Taken seriously, Citizens United requires that corporations and individuals be afforded equal rights to political speech, unqualified.” It’s ultimately going to be up to the Supreme Court to resolve whether direct corporate donations are permissible under the First Amendment. And as SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston observed yesterday, the Court could weigh in relatively soon:
A federal appeals court in another Circuit (the Eighth) has already ruled the opposite way, saying it is up to the Supreme Court to decide whether Citizens United has any impact on the corporate donation ban; Judge Cacheris acknowledged that ruling on Tuesday, but refused to follow it. Even if his new ruling to the contrary were to be overturned in his own Circuit (the Fourth), the issue is headed toward the Supreme Court within a matter of months in one or more cases. Attorneys in the Eighth Circuit Court are already setting up that case for an attempt to get it before the Supreme Court.