U.S. District Judge James Cacheris ruled last week that corporations have the same right as individual citizens to donate to candidates for federal office and struck down a law that banned corporate contributions to federal candidates, AP reports.
Judge Cacheris of the Eastern District of Virginia determined that the Supreme Court's decision last year in Citizens United prohibiting bans on corporate spending by independent groups extended to direct contributions to candidates' campaigns:
(F)or better or worse, Citizens United held that there is no distinction between an individual and a corporation with respect to political speech. Thus, if an individual can make direct contributions within (the law's) limits, a corporation cannot be banned from doing the same thing.
The judge therefore ruled that part of indictment against two defendants alleging that they illegally reimbursed donors in two of Hillary Clinton's campaigns was invalid. Click here to read the decision.
The ruling came after a federal judge in Minnesota upheld a state ban on corporate contributions. Some commentators predict that the decision will be overturned on appeal, asserting that Citizens United made a clear distinction between limits on corporate campaign contributions and independent expenditures.
UPDATE: Judge Cacheris appears to be reconsidering his ruling that the First Amendment prohibits laws that differentiate between individuals and corporations in campaign contributions, according to the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire. Today, he requested briefs from both sides and has called for oral arguments on Friday.