A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a Trump administration campaign ad that was made using an image of President Donald Trump could be used in its place.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the campaign ad, which ran on the presidential campaign trail in 2016 and has since been used in a series of other ads, does not violate the federal Campaign Finance Act because the image is “a non-commercial, non-advertising advertisement” and the ads are not sponsored.
The appeals court also said that although the Trump campaign has the right to air a Trump ad, the ad violates federal campaign finance law by “making the candidate’s political position, his position as the nominee of the Republican Party, or his affiliation with it a condition for receiving money.”
The 2-1 decision was handed down by Judge William Conlon of the 2nd Circuit.
The case, “In Search of the Presidential Candidate,” is a class action suit filed in June by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.
The court ruled that the image, which is one of a man sitting on a table in a blue suit and holding a large white-colored umbrella, was not a commercial advertisement.
The image was taken by a person wearing a suit with a blue tie, the 2-year-old complaint stated.
The ad has been used by other campaigns including by the Trump Victory Committee and the Trump Super PAC.
The Trump campaign paid for the ad, according to the complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York.
“The image of the candidate is not a condition precedent for a campaign to receive money, as the ad states, but the campaign cannot be compelled to pay for a political advertisement that depicts a candidate,” Conlon wrote.
“It is not clear, therefore, whether the campaign is obligated to pay, as it did here,” Conlan added.
“We think that the ad is a fair representation of the views of the candidates and their supporters,” said Sarah Kendzior, an attorney for the ACLU.
“It’s really unfortunate that we don’t see any federal regulation that requires a candidate to pay to run a political ad.”
“There’s a lot of pressure on candidates to run ads to communicate their views,” Kendziol said.
“This is a small, well-known ad that shows the views and policies of the Trump supporters.”
Kendzior added that the ACLU is “happy that the appeals court upheld the First Amendment rights of candidates to speak out.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, a national civil liberties organization, applauded the ruling.
“This decision marks the beginning of a new era for the American people when it comes to campaign finance, and the ruling affirms that the Trump Administration has the constitutional authority to prohibit candidates from running political ads,” the group said in a statement.
The case was brought by the ACLU and the Campaign Legal Center.