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Frequently Asked Questions About the Ban on Political Campaign Intervention by 501(c)(3) Organizations: Constitutional Considerations

Doesn’t the First Amendment grant an individual the right to express his or her political beliefs?

The ban on political campaign activity does not restrict leaders of organizations from expressing their views on political matters if they are speaking for themselves as individuals.   Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy.  However, for their organizations to remain tax exempt under section 501(c)(3), leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions of the organization.

For example, a minister of a church can attend an event for a particular candidate and express his support of the candidate as long as he does not state or otherwise imply that he is speaking on behalf of his church.  However, if a minister made the same statement at an official church function or in an official church publication, that statement would be prohibited political campaign activity.