Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, 539 U.S. 146, 6 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 146 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

spects like NCRL. The Court of Appeals ruled, first, that the prohibition on independent expenditures may not be applied to NCRL. Although the panel acknowledged that Massachusetts Citizens for Life, unlike NCRL, had a formal policy against accepting corporate donations, see Massachusetts Citizens for Life, supra, at 263-264 (describing this feature of the organization as "essential to our holding"), it nevertheless treated NCRL as materially indistinguishable from Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

To the point for present purposes, the Court of Appeals went on to hold the ban on direct contributions likewise unconstitutional as applied to NCRL. While the majority of the divided court recognized that regulation of campaign contributions has received greater deference under First Amendment cases than regulation of independent expenditures, 278 F. 3d, at 274 (citing Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, 528 U. S. 377, 386-388 (2000)), it held the ban on direct contributions unjustified as applied to "[Massachusetts Citizens for Life]-type corporations," which it thought "pose[d] no risk of 'unfair deployment of wealth for political purposes.' " 278 F. 3d, at 275 (quoting Massachusetts Citizens for Life, supra, at 259). The Court of Appeals reasoned that "[t]he rationale utilized by the Court in [Massachusetts Citizens for Life] to declare prohibitions on independent expenditures unconstitutional as applied to [the advocacy corporation involved there] is equally applicable in the context of direct contributions." 278 F. 3d, at 275. Judge Gregory dissented from the others on this point, since he saw no way to square their conclusion with this Court's reasoning in National Right to Work. 278 F. 3d, at 282.

After the Fourth Circuit divided 7 to 4 in denying rehearing en banc, the FEC petitioned for certiorari solely as to the constitutionality of the ban on direct contributions.2 Be-2 We thus have no occasion to say whether the Court of Appeals correctly held NCRL entitled to the so-called "Massachusetts Citizens for Life exception" to the statute's ban on independent expenditures.


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