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Citizens United used 'Hillary: The Movie' to take on McCain-Feingold
Bossie said Ted Olson was "singularly responsible for our winning this case." Olson transformed the case from a narrow one about McCain-Feingold to an assault on the law's constitutionality, helping crystallize the issue for the justices.
When the Supreme Court first heard the case in March, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart, representing the FEC, was pulled into a discussion of an issue that took him down a slippery slope: If the movie were a book, would the government ban publishing the book if it mentioned a candidate for office within the election time frame?
Stewart said that it could.
"That's pretty incredible," Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said.
Then came questions about electronic devices such as the Kindle.
"If it has one name, one use of the candidate's name, it would be covered, correct?" Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked.
"That's correct," Stewart replied.
"It's a 500-page book, and at the end it says, 'And so vote for X,' the government could ban that?" Roberts asked.
Bossie said this was the argument that turned a majority of the bench against the FEC and in favor of Citizens United.
"That sent a chill down the Supreme Court," Bossie said. The argument became a "point of demarcation."
Citizens United spent about $1.25 million in legal fees on the case -- so much, Bossie said, that it "makes you cry."
But, he said, it was worth every dollar.
"We have been trying to defend our First Amendment rights for many, many years," Bossie said. "We brought the case hoping that this would happen. . . . to defeat McCain-Feingold."