Monday, December 27, 2010
The Supreme Court decreed in Citizen’s United that "[n]o sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations." The Internal Revenue Code, however, imposes a variety of limits on different categories of tax exempt nonprofits, including tax exempt section 501(c)(4) entities such as Citizens United itself. Tax law also burdens for-profit corporations by denying them a deduction for lobbying and political expenditures. Nowhere does Citizens United acknowledge the tax limits on political speech or address their constitutionality. Supreme Court cases predating Citizens United have justified these tax limits on the grounds that government has no duty to subsidize political speech. To the extent that "no duty to subsidize" is and remains the justification, nothing in Citizens United explicitly threatens the current tax regime.