WASHINGTON (CNN) - Money and politics are often equated as the fuel and engine of American democracy, but thanks to the Supreme Court, century-old government speed bumps on the campaign speech superhighway may soon be a thing of the past.
Those are the monumental stakes when the justices return early from its summer recess Wednesday to re-hear a case which could radically alter the election calculus for corporations, unions, advocacy groups, and individuals seeking a voice in the crowded national political debate.
The court will hold a rare special session, which also marks the debut of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. At issue is whether prior rulings limiting corporate spending on federal elections should be overturned. The justices could decide to erase the subtle but important distinction between corporate donors - which are subject to regulation - and individual donors, who largely are not.