APPC Research Cited in Supreme Court Decision (McConnell v. FEC, 02-1674)

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld major provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), citing Annenberg Public Policy Center research as evidence. The Supreme Court cited APPC’s issue ad research in documenting the amount of money that was spent on “candidate-centered issue ads.”

It wrote: The conclusion that such ads were specifically intended to affect election results was confirmed by the fact that almost all of them aired in the 60 days immediately preceding a federal election. Corporations and unions spent hundreds of millions of dollars of their general funds to pay for these ads" (p. 16). This last sentence cites a footnote that reads: The spending on electioneering communications climbed dramatically during the last decade. In the 1996 election cycle, $135 to $150 million was spent on multiple broadcasts of about 100 ads. In the next cycle (1997-1998), 77 organizations aired 423 ads at a total cost between $270 and $340 million. By the 2000 election, 130 groups spent over an estimated $500 million on more than 1,100 different ads. Two out of every three dollars spent on issue ads in the 2000 cycle were attributable to the two major parties and six major interest groups. Id., at 303.304 (Henderson, J.) (citing Annenberg Public Policy Center, Issue Advertising in the 1999.2000 Election Cycle 1.15 (2001).

Later the Court cited APPC research again as being among those noting that the vast majority of ads aired right before an election were indeed candidate centered. The Court wrote: The precise percentage of issue ads that clearly identified a candidate and were aired during those relatively brief preelection time spans but had no electioneering purpose is a matter of dispute between the parties and among the judges on the District Court. See 251 F. Supp. 2d, at 307.312 (Henderson, J.); id., at 583.587 (Kollar-Kotelly, J.); id., at 796.798 (Leon, J.). Nevertheless, the vast majority of ads clearly had such a purpose. Annenberg Report 13.14; App. 1330.1348 (Krasno & Sorauf Expert Report); 251 F. Supp. 2d, at 573.578 (Kollar-Kotelly, J.); id., at 26. 827 (Leon, J.).