8th Circuit Unanimously Rejects Challenge to MN Corporate Contribution Ban; Divides on Disclosure Requirements

The Eighth Circuit has issued its en banc opinion in the Swanson case.  The Eighth Circuit now joins the Second, Fourth (after the rejection of the district court decision in Danielczyk) and Ninth Circuits (in the Thalheimer case in which I was involved) in holding that any challenge to corporate contribution bans in the lower courts is barred by the Supreme Court’s decision in FEC v. Beaumont.  The 8th Circuit does drop a footnote however suggesting that if and when this issue reaches the Supreme Court again, the Court could well overrule Beaumont.  (Without a circuit split, however, the Court is less likely to take such a case.)

The 8th Circuit split, however, on a particular aspect of Minnesota’s disclosure law which it said would put an onerous burden on small associations which want to engage in certain election-related speech.  The Court stressed however that political committees would still be required to disclose under Minnesota law, and that the part of the law imposing continuing reporting requirements might be severable from the rest of the law.

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