Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - Page updated at 11:59 AM

Court Fight Over Anti-Clinton Movie Ads

Conservative activists are asking a court to let them run disparaging television advertisements against Hillary Rodham Clinton during the peak primary election season to promote a new movie lambasting the Democratic presidential hopeful.

Citizens United is challenging the nation's campaign finance laws, which require disclaimers on political advertisements and restrict when they can be broadcast. The group argues that advertisements for "Hillary: The Movie" should not be considered political advertising even though the New York senator is in the presidential race.

A three-judge panel will hear arguments in the case Thursday. The group had hoped to air the ads before last week's Iowa caucuses and continue them at least through the Florida primary, according to court documents.

Lawyers for Citizens United describe the movie as a 90-minute "issue-advocacy film." Ads on the group's Web site include a clip of Dick Morris, the former presidential adviser who is now a critic of the Clintons, saying Clinton is "the closest thing we have in America to a European socialist."

Lawyers say the movie "does not expressly advocate Senator Clinton's election or defeat."

One ad begins with a narrator saying, "First, a kind word about Hillary Clinton." Conservative commentator Ann Coulter says, "Looks good in a pant suit," to which the narrator adds, "Now, a movie about everything else."

Clinton has made her bouts with "the Republican attack machine" part of her campaign. She argues she has a history of surviving the criticism and is ready to withstand it in a general election. Her lawyers have not filed any documents in the case.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company