Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, 539 U.S. 146, 14 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

pelling justification than restrictions on independent spending"). "In light of the historical role of contributions in the corruption of the electoral process, the need for a broad prophylactic rule [against contributions] was thus sufficient in [National Right to Work]." Id., at 260.


The upshot is that, although we have never squarely held against NCRL's position here, we could not hold for it without recasting our understanding of the risks of harm posed by corporate political contributions, of the expressive significance of contributions, and of the consequent deference owed to legislative judgments on what to do about them. NCRL's efforts, however, fail to unsettle existing law on any of these points.

First, NCRL argues that on a class-wide basis "[Massachusetts Citizens for Life]-type corporations pose no potential of threat to the political system," so that the governmental interest in combating corruption is as weak as the Court held it to be in relation to the particular corporation considered in Massachusetts Citizens for Life. Brief for Respondents 19. But this generalization does not hold up. For present purposes, we will assume advocacy corporations are generally different from traditional business corporations in the improbability that contributions they might make would end up supporting causes that some of their members would not approve. See Massachusetts Citizens for Life, supra, at 260-262.5 But concern about the corrupt-5 That said, this concern is not wholly inapplicable to advocacy corporations, as "persons may desire that an organization use their contributions to further a certain cause, but may not want the organization to use their money to urge support for or opposition to political candidates solely on the basis of that cause." Massachusetts Citizens for Life, 479 U. S., at 261. In any event, we have never intimated that the risk of corruption alone is insufficient to support regulation of political contributions. See, e. g., Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U. S. 652, 658-659 (1990); Federal Election Comm'n v. National Right to Work Comm., 459


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