High court denies request from makers of anti-Clinton movie

Monday, March 24, 2008

Editor's note: This version of the story clarifies that the Supreme Court denied a request for a preliminary injunction, rather than refusing ever to hear the case.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today turned away a request for a preliminary injunction from a
conservative group that wants to promote its anti-Hillary Clinton movie without
complying with campaign-finance laws.

The Court's decision not to grant injunctive relief in Citizens
United v. FEC
leaves in place a lower court ruling that says the group,
Citizens United, must attach a disclaimer and disclose its donors in order to
run the ads.

The group says the issue will be important whether or not New York Sen.
Clinton wins the Democratic presidential nomination. It plans a movie critical
of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama if he should be the nominee.

The issue still could come back to the high court. The justices said Citizens
United must pursue its case in federal appeals court in Washington before
seeking Supreme Court review.

Citizens United initially hoped to run the television advertisements in key
election states during peak primary season.

Its lawyers had argued that the 90-minute “Hillary: The Movie” was no
different from documentaries seen on television news shows “60 Minutes” and

Campaign regulations prohibit corporations and unions from paying for ads
that run close to elections and identify candidates. Citizens United argued that
the advertisements should be treated as commercial speech because they are
intended to promote a movie, not oppose Clinton's candidacy.

A panel of three federal judges disagreed. The film does not address
legislative issues and was produced solely “to inform the electorate that
Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous
place in a President Hillary Clinton world, and that viewers should vote against
her,” the judges said in a unanimous ruling.

A similar issue surfaced in 2004, when Citizens United sought to keep
filmmaker Michael Moore from advertising “Fahrenheit 9/11″ in the run-up to the
presidential election. The Federal Election Commission dismissed the complaint
after Moore said he had no plans to run the ads during election season.

The anti-Clinton movie is being sold on DVD and is scheduled for nine
screenings in theaters. Campaign regulations do not apply to DVDs, theaters or
the Internet, where the group has posted its ads.

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