A federal district court judge in Alexandria, Virginia issued an opinion yesterday ruling that the ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates enacted in 1907 is unconstitutional. The ruling was issued in United States v. William Danielczyk, Jr, et al.
Less than a decade ago, the Supreme Court in Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont (2003) explicitly upheld the constitutionality of the corporate contribution ban at issue in the district court case.
The decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), furthermore, that struck down the ban on independent corporate expenditures made clear that the opinion dealt only with corporate "expenditures" and not with contributions.
This leaves the Beaumont decision standing as existing Supreme Court doctrine, a decision that the district court judge conveniently ignores.
On May 16, 2011, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Inc. v. Swanson issued an opinion that correctly upheld the constitutionality of a corporate contribution ban based on the Supreme Court decision in the Beaumont case.
Federal district courts cannot overrule Supreme Court decisions, as the district court judge in this case is attempting to do.
The district court judge in this case does not have the authority to overrule the United States Supreme Court.
The district court opinion should be appealed and reversed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Follow Fred Wertheimer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FredWertheimer