Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce
494 U.S. 652 (1990)
- The Michigan Campaign
Finance Act (§54(1)) prohibited corporations from using corporate
funds to contribute to candidates in State elections.
- Michigan business, led by the
Chamber of Commerce, sued claiming that the law was an unconstitutional
violation of the 1st Amendment.
- The Trial Court found the law
to be unconstitutional. Michigan appealed.
- The Appellate Court reversed.
The Chamber of Commerce appealed.
- The US Supreme Court affirmed
and found the law to be constitutional.
- The US Supreme Court found
that commercial speech is
protected by the 1st Amendment, but not as much
as other forms of speech.
- The Court found the State
had a compelling government interest
in maintaining integrity of the political process, and "corporate
wealth can unfairly influence elections."
- The Court found that the law
was narrowly tailored enough to be
constitutional because it allowed corporations to make donations through
independent, segregated funds.
- Contrast this case with First
National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti
(435 U.S. 765 (1978)), which came to pretty much the opposite decision.