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Court Says Ban On Corporate Giving To Candidates Is Unconstitutional

A U.S. District Court judge in Virginia "has ruled that the campaign finance law banning corporations from making [direct] contributions to federal candidates is unconstitutional," The Associated Press reports.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which appears to have had the story first, adds that the case "is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court." The decision would only affect cases in the Alexandria, Va.-based district.

This involves a related but different issue than the 2010 Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court said corporations could make "independent expenditures" that indirectly support candidates.

Update at 1:40 p.m. ET: NPR's Peter Overby tells the Newscast desk that Cacheris based his reasoning on the Citizens United ruling. Peter notes, though, that the Supreme Court last upheld the corporate ban on direct giving in 2003 and that the Citizens United case didn't touch that ban. And another federal court, in the 8th Circuit, "upheld the ban as recently as two weeks ago," Peter says.

Cacheris, adds Peter, "made his ruling during the trial of two men accused of using corporate money to reimburse donors to Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential and senatorial campaigns."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.