More help is coming for TV stations -- now corporations can directly support political candidates with campaign advertising.
The Supreme Court overturned a 20-year-old ruling prohibiting corporations from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. It will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns. Supporters say this could pave the way to end similar limits in about two dozen state laws.
The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns. Previously, there was restriction on such ads within 30 days of an election.
In a close 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion: "The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach." On the dissenting side, Justice John Paul Stevens said: "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."
The decision does not affect political action committees. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.