The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on business efforts to influence federal campaigns. By a 5-4 vote, the court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said companies can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads.
The decision leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions. It does, however, remove limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.
The case does not affect political action committees (PAC). Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.