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First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti

United States Supreme Court
435 U.S. 765 (1978)


Facts

A Massachusetts criminal statute prohibited certain expenditures by banks and business corporations for the purpose of influencing the vote on referendum proposals. First National Bank of Boston (FNBB) (plaintiff) wished to spend money to publicize their views on a proposed constitutional amendment that was to be submitted to the voters as a ballot question at a general election. The amendment would have permitted the legislature to impose a graduated tax on the income of individuals. FNBB brought suit against Bellotti, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, and the State of Massachusetts (defendants) in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts seeking to challenge the statute on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment. The court upheld the constitutionality of the statute, and FNBB appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (White, J.)

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