Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010) 1 Opinion of the Court NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash- ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES _________________ No. 08–205 _________________ CITIZENS UNITED, APPELLANT v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA [January 21, 2010] JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court. Federal law prohibits corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an “electioneering communication” or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. 2 U. S. C. §441b. Limits on electioneering communications were upheld in McCon- nell v. Federal Election Comm’n, 540 U. S. 93, 203–209 (2003). The holding of McConnell rested to a large extent on an earlier case, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Com- merce, 494 U. S. 652 (1990). Austin had held that political speech may be banned based on the speaker’s corporate identity. In this case we are asked to reconsider Austin and, in effect, McConnell. It has been noted that “Austin was a significant departure from ancient First Amendment principles,” Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U. S. 449, 490 (2007) (WRTL) (SCALIA, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment). We agree with that conclusion and hold that stare decisis does not compel the continued acceptance of Austin. The Govern-
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