Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, 539 U.S. 146, 17 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

speech by someone other than the contributor." Buckley, supra, at 20-21. This is the reason that instead of requiring contribution regulations to be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest, "a contribution limit involving 'significant interference' with associational rights" passes muster if it satisfies the lesser demand of being " 'closely drawn' to match a 'sufficiently important interest.' " Nixon, supra, at 387-388 (quoting Buckley, supra, at 25); cf. Austin, 494 U. S., at 657; Buckley, supra, at 44-45.9

Indeed, this recognition that degree of scrutiny turns on the nature of the activity regulated is the only practical way to square two leading cases: National Right to Work approved strict solicitation limits on a PAC organized to make contributions, see 459 U. S., at 201-202, whereas Massachusetts Citizens for Life applied a compelling interest test to invalidate the ban on an advocacy corporation's expenditures in light of PAC regulatory burdens, see 479 U. S., at 252-255; see also id., at 265-266 (opinion of O'Connor, J.). Each case involved 441b, after all, and the same "ban" on the same corporate "sources" of political activity applied in both cases.

It is not that the difference between a ban and a limit is to be ignored; it is just that the time to consider it is when applying scrutiny at the level selected, not in selecting the standard of review itself. But even when NCRL urges precisely that, and asserts that 441b is not sufficiently "closely drawn," the claim still rests on a false premise, for NCRL is simply wrong in characterizing 441b as a complete ban. As we have said before, the section "permits some participation of unions and corporations in the federal electoral proc-9 Judicial deference is particularly warranted where, as here, we deal with a congressional judgment that has remained essentially unchanged throughout a century of "careful legislative adjustment." National Right to Work, supra, at 209; cf. Nixon, supra, at 391 ("The quantum of empirical evidence needed to satisfy heightened judicial scrutiny of legislative judgments will vary up or down with the novelty and plausibility of the justification raised").

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