March 01, 2017

SC Rejects Challenge To Political Ad Disclosure Rules

US Supreme Court

The US top court upheld political advertising disclosure rules by rejecting an appeal by a Denver-based libertarian think tank that wanted to run an advertisement without being forced to divulge its major donors.

The Denver-based Independence Institute has taken legal action against the Federal Election Commission, arguing that the law requiring such disclosure violated its free speech rights under the US Constitution's First Amendment. The Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's ruling of 2016 in favor of the commission.

The Independence Institute was supported in the case by influential Republican and conservative voices, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Judicial Watch legal activist group as well as the US Chamber of Commerce business group.

The institute, ahead of the 2014 congressional elections, had sought to run a radio advertisement about increasing prison costs, telling listeners to urge their Colorado US senators to support sentencing reform.

Because the advertisement had mentioned a senator by name in the lead up to an election, it triggered a provision in the 2002 campaign finance statute known as the McCain-Feingold law requiring the institute to file with the election commission and disclose any donors supporting the advertisement.

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