Protecting Speech from the Heart: How Citizens United Strikes Down Political Speech Restrictions on Churches and Charities
Paul D. Weitzel
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
May 20, 2011
Texas Review of Law & Politics, 16 Tex. Rev. L. & Pol. 155-174 (2011)
This paper shows that tax deductible charities have a constitutional right to speak about politics. This ban was last upheld in Regan v. Taxation with Representation of Washington. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission rejected the reasoning of Regan, thereby abrogating the ban on political speech by 501(c)(3) organizations.
Regan held that 501(c)(3) organizations could be prohibited from speaking about politics because they would still be able to speak through affiliate organizations. Citizens United rejected this argument when applied to for-profit corporations, and that reasoning applies equally to non-profit organizations. Regan also relies on the distinction between subsidies and punishments, which is also untenable in light of Citizens United.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: 501(c)(3), Citizens United, charities, free speech, political speech, tax exempt
Date posted: May 25, 2011 ; Last revised: September 18, 2014