Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, 539 U.S. 146, 8 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

xvii, banned "any corporation whatever" from making "a money contribution in connection with" federal elections, 34 Stat. 864-865.

Since 1907, there has been continual congressional attention to corporate political activity, sometimes resulting in refinement of the law, sometimes in overhaul.3 One feature, however, has stayed intact throughout this "careful legislative adjustment of the federal electoral laws," National Right to Work, supra, at 209, and much of the periodic amendment was meant to strengthen the original, core prohibition on direct corporate contributions. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, for example, broadened the ban on contributions to include "anything of value," and criminalized the act of receiving a contribution to match the criminality of making one. Ch. 368, 302, 313, 43 Stat. 1070, 1074. So, in another instance, the 1947 Labor Management Relations Act drew labor unions permanently within the law's reach and invigorated the earlier prohibition to include "expenditure[s]" as well. Ch. 120, 304, 61 Stat. 159; see Pipefitters, supra, at 402.

Today, as in 1907, the law focuses on the "special characteristics of the corporate structure" that threaten the integrity of the political process. National Right to Work, 459 U. S., at 209; see id., at 207; see also Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U. S. 652, 658-659 (1990); Massachusetts Citizens for Life, 479 U. S., at 257-258; Federal Election Comm'n v. National Conservative Political Action Comm., 470 U. S. 480, 500-501 (1985). As we explained it in Austin,

3 See, e. g., Act of June 25, 1910, ch. 392, 36 Stat. 822; Act of Aug. 19, 1911, ch. 33, 37 Stat. 25; Federal Corrupt Practices Act, 1925, ch. 368, 43 Stat. 1070; Act of July 19, 1940 (Hatch Act), 54 Stat. 767; War Labor Disputes Act, 1943, ch. 144, 9, 57 Stat. 167; Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 304, 61 Stat. 159; Act of Oct. 31, 1951, 21, 65 Stat. 718; Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA), 86 Stat. 3; FECA Amendments of 1974, 88 Stat. 1263; FECA Amendments of 1976, 90 Stat. 475; FECA Amendments of 1979, 93 Stat. 1339; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, 116 Stat. 81.

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