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Anti-Clinton Group's Appeal Brushed Aside by Supreme Court

By Robert Barnes
The Supreme Court today turned down an appeal from a conservative group that was challenging the way it could promote "Hillary: The Movie," a film that criticizes Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The court said it does not have jurisdiction, at least at this time, to hear the case brought by Citizens United, which wants to eliminate a provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act requiring groups that fund campaign-related advertising to disclose donor names.

A panel of three federal judges had turned down the group's request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed them to bypass campaign rules that prohibit corporations and unions from paying for ads that name candidates in advance of elections. Citizens United argued that the film should not have been seen as directly telling voters how they should vote for president.

The panel refused to issue the injunction, saying it was unlikely the group could prevail on such a view. "'The Movie' is susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world, and that viewers should vote against her,'' the D.C. District Court panel ruled.

Citizens United tried to appeal the ruling directly to the Supreme Court, but the government told the court it should not review a ruling on an injunction. The court apparently agreed, dismissing the appeal "for want of jurisdiction.'' Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the two-sentence order said, would have affirmed the lower court's judgment.

The government noted in its brief that the group could still take the issue to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 24, 2008; 12:36 PM ET
 
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Comments

For the record, Sen. Obama himself that Sen. Patrick Leahy's call for Clinton to leave the race was premature, declaring that Clinton had a right to stay in the race as long as she wanted.

"Yeah. I hadn't talked to Pat about it," Obama said when asked about Leahy's comments and if it was a premature move on the part of his surrogates.

"My attitude is that Sen. Clinton can run as long as she wants. Her name is on the ballot. And she is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that she would make the best nominee and the best opponent," he said. "I think that you know she should be able to compete and her supporters should be able to support her for as long as they are willing or able."

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/03/30/842094.aspx

Posted by: JakeD | April 1, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

You people following Obama's command for Hillary to drop out of race should do some research on Obama's past political tricks in Chicago. It seems he does whatever it takes to run on an empty ballot, interfering with the election process just as he is doing in this campaign with the states of FL and MI fighting with all his might behind the scene to keep the voters from having their vote count. Maybe Hillary should have called for him to drop out when she was ahead. No, she is too mature for that.

Posted by: pcdent | March 25, 2008 1:33 AM | Report abuse

The way the Clintons are behaving as their campaign dies on the vine, no secretly funded right wing swiftboating ads will be needed.

She can't win the nomination without destroying the Party. If she destroys the Party, she can't win the election. Sounds like she can't win either way. Time to end it Hillary.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 24, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome -- I don't listen to Hannity though -- but, consider me a Second Amendment absolutist (just wait til we get to Korematsu which was never expressly overruled BTW ; )

Posted by: JakeD | March 24, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Henceforth, I am a First Amendment absolutist (no Black qualification any more)...thanks to Jake and Wikipedia for the education. You hear things sometimes and make assumptions...the reality often forces a re-examination (now if only Hannity's listeners would do the same),

The Second Amendment is one of those ongoing ambiguities that the courts have always been inclined to interpret in light of the times. I have never owned a firearm, but there is an intent of the framers here that needs to be respected. I don't believe the government can ban private ownership of all firearms. The open question is how far can ownership and use be regulated, and whether there is a basis to ban certain types of firearms based on their intended use (e.g. assault weapons).

Posted by: flarrfan | March 24, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

flarrfan:

I always strive to disagree without being disagreeable -- since we've agreed on the First Amendment, how about the Second Amendment conferring a PERSONAL right to bear arms or even his Korematsu decision -- here's an enlightening excerpt re: Hugo Black:

Justice Black is often regarded as a leading defender of First Amendment rights such as the freedom of speech and of the press. He refused to accept the doctrine that the freedom of speech could be curtailed on national security grounds. Thus, in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), he voted to allow newspapers to publish the Pentagon Papers despite the Nixon Administration's contention that publication would have security implications. In his concurring opinion, Black stated,

"The word 'security' is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment." He rejected the idea that the government was entitled to punish "obscene" speech. Likewise, he argued that defamation laws abridged the freedom of speech and were therefore unconstitutional. Most members of the Supreme Court rejected both of these views; Black's interpretation did attract the support of Justice Douglas.

However, he did not believe that individuals had the right to speak wherever they pleased. He delivered the majority opinion in Adderley v. Florida (1966), controversially upholding a trespassing conviction for protestors who demonstrated on government property. He also dissented from Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), in which the Supreme Court ruled that students had the right to wear armbands (as a form of protest) in schools, writing,

"While I have always believed that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments neither the State nor the Federal Government has any authority to regulate or censor the content of speech, I have never believed that any person has a right to give speeches or engage in demonstrations where he pleases and when he pleases."

Moreover, Black took a narrow view of what constituted "speech" under the First Amendment. For example, he did not believe that flag burning was speech; in Street v. New York (1969), he wrote: "It passes my belief that anything in the Federal Constitution bars a State from making the deliberate burning of the American flag an offense." Similarly, he dissented from Cohen v. California (1971), in which the Court held that wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words "F*ck the Draft" was speech protected by the First Amendment. He agreed that this activity "was mainly conduct, and little speech."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Black#First_Amendment

Posted by: JakeD | March 24, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Damned Obama and his disciples are all about taking credit where none is due. 8)

"To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable."

Barry Goldwater quotes

Posted by: edbyronadams | March 24, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

flarrfan:

As a lawyer and Hugo Black First Amendment absolutist, myself -- you do know that Black wrote that flag-burning was not protected "speech", right -- I will stick with McCain ; )

Posted by: JakeD | March 24, 2008 03:58 PM

I did not know that, Jake...although I suspect he probably would have held that cross-burning was. I still have major concerns about legislative limitations on campaign spending, donor disclosure, etc., as encroachments on the First Amendment, and I just wanted to note that while we may disagree on candidates, we do have some common ground, and that, as BHO has said, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Posted by: flarrfan | March 24, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

flarrfan:

As a lawyer and Hugo Black First Amendment absolutist, myself -- you do know that Black wrote that flag-burning was not protected "speech", right -- I will stick with McCain ; )

Posted by: JakeD | March 24, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

must be a lot of Obamaites' posting here.
Lots of misinformation on the the freedom of speech issue.

Posted by: newagent99 | March 24, 2008 03:33 PM

Care to be more specific? I know that on a few specific issues the Supreme Court has tended to support what the justices have viewed as reasonable restrictions related to campaign financing. I also know as a First Amendment absolutist that those decisions are wrong first steps down a very slippery slope.

Posted by: flarrfan | March 24, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

must be a lot of Obamaites' posting here.
Lots of misinformation on the the freedom of speech issue.

Posted by: newagent99 | March 24, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Fine, BB, if you want to be technical about it, the government forcing disclosure of donor names directly violates the freedom of association -- there's a lot in that First Amendment BTW -- and thus, indirectly, freedom of speech.

Posted by: JakeD | March 24, 2008 02:31 PM

Jake, as a lawyer and Hugo Black First Amendment absolutist, I totally agree with you!

Also, as a First Amendment absolutist, I much prefer a constitutional law teacher as our next President, rather than the namesake of legislation that infringes on both freedom of speech and association.

Moreover, given a choice between such a teacher (and former Harvard Law Review president)and the wife of a former president who won't disclose diddly-squat about how she and her once-broke hubby are now rich enough for her to loan her mismanaged campaign $5M, I think that decision is pretty clear as well.

Posted by: flarrfan | March 24, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Why do they want to hide donor names?

Posted by: jcmdstep1 | March 24, 2008 02:52 PM
******************************************

Openess and transparency are "evil" things to the Clintons. One only needs to look at their marriage history to see this.

As to the donor list for the Clinton Library, remember only a few short days ago, Hillary flew to Michigan to beg the state to re-do the primary on the same day the primary do-over donor list was revealed. Turns out that the donor list for the rich Democrats willing to pay $12 million for another primary were all staunch Hillary-supporters. The public impression was that Hillary was looking to "rig" the primary vote.

Posted by: ajtiger92 | March 24, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

What's amazing is this film would have even been produced. Obviously, it wasn't done by Hollywood types. It never would have made it through their censorship.
-Trevor Wynne
Washington, DC
http://www.atimelikethis.us/

Posted by: trevorwynnewhitehouse | March 24, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Why do they want to hide donor names?

Posted by: jcmdstep1 | March 24, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Fine, BB, if you want to be technical about it, the government forcing disclosure of donor names directly violates the freedom of association -- there's a lot in that First Amendment BTW -- and thus, indirectly, freedom of speech.

Posted by: JakeD | March 24, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Jake - not to worry about their right to express themselves. It's just their claimed right to shield their donors' identities.

It's not like it's that big a deal. Everyone knows who was behind the swift boat ads and they were still devastating.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 24, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Even if I disagree with Citizens United, I would fight to the death for their right to free speech.

Posted by: JakeD | March 24, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow, it's amazing the Roberts court didn't want to hear this and rule in favor of these right-wing smear-mongers. Maybe there's still hope for this country.

Posted by: brigittepj | March 24, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Hillary has been proven herself to be such a big liar I could never vote for her. She completely made up that story about her 'harrowing' experience about how dangerous it was being shot at by snipers when her plane landed at Bosnia. Then we see her getting off the plane accompanied by her then teenage daughter, Sheryl Crowe and the comedian, Sinbad. Then she is met by a welcoming party including an eight-year-old girl presenting her with flowers - not a sniper anywhere.

Her next big lie was that she "was against NAFTA from the start." The truth,we learn,is that she gave speeches promoting NAFTA. This was revealed by her own schedule which was released pursuant to a court order as the result of a lawsuit brought under the Freedom of Information Act, not voluntarily released as she later claimed. She just comes across as a calculating liar who will do anything to get wants. I am now a dedicated volunteer for Obama, also a contributor.

Posted by: rhbate | March 24, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Note the name of the restriction that impedes this right wing effort. There will be one proven bipartisan candidate for president on the ballot this November.

Posted by: edbyronadams | March 24, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just wear hoods and march around with signs declaring their hatred of Hillary? We need more secret, political slime machines buying ads to elevate the political process. Right! That's been working really well for America lately.

The wealthy in power will do anything to preserve it, the more secret, the better.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 24, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Two new general election polls this morning show Democrats very competitive in Nevada and possibly in North Carolina depending on the nominee. Full roundup: http://www.campaigndiaries.com/2008/03/few-polls-this-morning-from-rasmussen.html

Posted by: campaigndiaries | March 24, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

zzzzzzzzz

Posted by: rat-the | March 24, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

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