WV Cannot Limit Contributions to Independent Expenditure-Only PACs



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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia ruled recently, in the case of Stay The Course West Virginia v. Tennant, 1:12-cv-01658, that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech allows unlimited contributions - including from corporations - to political action committees (PACs) that make independent political ads rather than make direct contributions to candidates. The West Virginia ban becomes the latest - and among the last - such state ban to be struck down in the wake of SpeechNow v. FEC, a 2010 decision further limiting the reach of federal campaign finance laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The unconstitutionality of the ban had been clear for some time, as regulators and courts in other states had previously recognized. This ruling was the first instance in which the West Virginia law had been challenged.

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