FEC v. Beaumont
Campaign Finance Reform
In January 2003, the Center filed an amicus brief in Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, which involved a narrow exception to the ban on using corporate or union treasury funds for federal electioneering. The exception, carved by the United States Supreme Court in 1986, permitted certain nonprofit corporations that have policies against accepting donations from corporations or unions to make federal campaign expenditures from their general funds.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Beaumont extended the exception to contributions as well; this decision compounded the effect of its prior decision, which declared nonprofit corporations that do accept a “modest percentage” of their revenues from corporations or unions exempt from the rule. While opposing the extension to contributions, the Center’s brief also urged the Supreme Court to reaffirm that nonprofit corporations that accept any corporate or union money may not engage in electioneering.
In 2003, the Supreme Court agreed that the ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates is constitutional, even when applied to nonprofit advocacy corporations. The Court did not reach the issue of whether nonprofits that receive a “modest percentage” of their revenue from a corporation or labor union fell under the narrow exception to the ban on using corporate or union treasury funds for federal electioneering.
Supreme Court opinions
- Supreme Court of the United States of America Majority Opinion
- Supreme Court of the United States of America Concurring Opinion
- Supreme Court of the United States of America Dissenting Opinion