Supreme Court rules in campaign finance, sovereign immunity cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] handed down decisions in three cases Monday, including a decision in Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission [Duke Law case backgrounder], where the Court remanded the case to the federal District Court in Washington, DC to reexamine whether the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 [text] violates the First Amendment right to free speech when it bans corporate and union sponsorship of political issue ads that mention a specific candidate from airing within two months of the election. The Federal Election Commission [official website] issued an injunction in 2004 barring Wisconsin Right to Life [advocacy website] from airing an advertisement mentioning US Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) [official website] two months before his reelection. The lower court had ruled [text] against the anti-abortion group, prompting a request that the Supreme Court strike down [JURIST report] the part of the law that called for the two-month ban. The Supreme Court said the lower court had misread a 2003 ruling [text] by the high court which upheld a federal campaign finance law, saying that ruling "did not purport to resolve future as-applied challenges," and returned the case to the lower court. Read the Court's per curiam opinion [PDF text]. AP has more.

In Central Virginia Comm. College v. Katz [Duke Law case backgrounder], the Court declined to apply the state sovereign immunity doctrine to claims brought under the Bankruptcy Clause. The case involved four state schools in Virginia which did business with Wallace's Bookstores prior to the store's bankruptcy. The liquidating supervisor had sued to collect the debts allegedly owed to the store, but the schools moved to dismiss the suit based on state sovereign immunity, which the bankruptcy court denied. The decision of the bankruptcy court was upheld by the district court and also affirmed [text] by the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website]. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts, holding that the bankruptcy trustee was not barred from suing by sovereign immunity. Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Stevens, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia and Kennedy. Reuters has more.

In the final case Monday, Unitherm Food Systems v. Swift-Eckrich [Duke Law case backgrounder], the Court ruled that a court of appeals may not review the sufficiency of evidence supporting a jury verdict under Rule 50(a) [text] of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when the party requesting the review did not also renew the motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b) [text], nor move for a new trial under Rule 59 [text]. Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Thomas, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Stevens, joined by Justice Kennedy.



 

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