Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, 539 U.S. 146, 7 (2003)

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152

FEDERAL ELECTION COMM'N v. BEAUMONT

Opinion of the Court

cause on that issue the Fourth Circuit is in conflict with the Sixth, see Kentucky Right to Life, Inc. v. Terry, 108 F. 3d 637, 645-646 (1997) (upholding a provision of Kentucky law analogous to 441b), we granted certiorari, 537 U. S. 1027 (2002). We now reverse.

II

A

Any attack on the federal prohibition of direct corporate political contributions goes against the current of a century of congressional efforts to curb corporations' potentially "deleterious influences on federal elections," which we have canvassed a number of times before. United States v. Automobile Workers, 352 U. S. 567, 585 (1957); see id., at 570-584; see also National Right to Work, 459 U. S., at 208-209; Pipe-fitters v. United States, 407 U. S. 385, 402-412 (1972); United States v. CIO, 335 U. S. 106, 113-115 (1948). The current law grew out of a "popular feeling" in the late 19th century "that aggregated capital unduly influenced politics, an influence not stopping short of corruption." Automobile Workers, supra, at 570. A demand for congressional action gathered force in the campaign of 1904, which made a national issue of the political leverage exerted through corporate contributions, and after the election and new revelations of corporate political overreaching, President Theodore Roosevelt made banning corporate political contributions a legislative priority. R. Mutch, Campaigns, Congress, and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law 1-8 (1988); see Automobile Workers, 352 U. S., at 571-575. Although some congressional proposals would have "prohibited political contributions by [only] certain classes of corporations," id., at 573, the momentum was "for elections 'free from the power of money,' " id., at 575 (citation omitted), and Congress acted on the President's call for an outright ban, not with half measures, but with the Tillman Act, ch. 420, 34 Stat. 864. This "first federal campaign finance law," Mutch, supra, at

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