Breaking News

Early release of Citizens United audio

The Supreme Court announced Friday that the audiotape of next Wednesday’s oral argument in a major campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (08-205), will be released for public broadcast shortly after the argument ends.  The argument is to begin at 10 a.m., and is scheduled to continue for 80 minutes, indicating that release may come in late morning.  The arrangements are outlined in this news release.

The hearing will be historic in a number of ways.  It will be the first Court argument heard by the new Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, who is the first Hispanic member of the Court and only the third woman Justice in history.  It will be the first time that former Harvard law dean Elena Kagan will argue in the Court in her new role as the U.S. Solicitor General.  The Court is also sitting in a rare special session, in advance of the formal opening of the new Term on Oct. 5.  And the argument itself will focus on constitutional issues with a history running back to the late 19th Century.

The Court’s Day Call shows this sequence for the argument: Theodore B. Olson of Washington, arguing for Citizens United, 30 minutes [some of that time will be saved for rebuttal after all others have argued]; Floyd Abrams of New York, arguing for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, 10 minutes; Solicitor General Kagan, for the FEC, 30 minutes, and Seth P. Waxman of Washington (a former Solicitor General), for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other present and former congressional sponsors of campaign finance legislation.

Although the case is scheduled for 80 minutes, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has sometimes allowed an argument to run beyond the allotted time, especially if the Justices are actively engaged in the discussion.

(NOTE TO READERS: See the post above for full background on the constitutional issues at stake Wednesday, including a lengthy look at the history behind those issues.   All briefs filed in the case are availabe at our sister blog, ScotusWiki, at this link.)