In Significant Action, Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case to Allow Corporate Contributions Directly to Candidates

Via SCOTUSBlog comes the news that the Supreme Court, without comment, has denied cert. in Danielczyk v. U.S.,The decision not to hear the case is significant, because it means the Supreme Court majority, which has shown hostility to campaign finance limits, has decided not to move as aggressively as it could in further deregulating the campaign finance system. The case raised the question (in the context of a criminal prosecution) whether corpo…

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Guess What the Montana GOP Did in the Short Window When the State Had No Contribution Limits?

Missoulian: “The Montana Republican Party donated $500,000 to gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill and approximately $30,000 to attorney general candidate Tim Fox after a judge struck down the state’s campaign contribution limits.” More here. We saw a similar move in the Thalheimer case when San Diego’s limits were temporarily blocked….

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Unanimous Ninth Circuit Panel Extends Stay of Montana Campaign Contributions Case Pending Appeal

Following up on this post, the Ninth Circuit motions panel, in an opinion by Judge Bybee, unanimously stayed the district court order which would have had the effect of removing most of the contribution limits in the state of Montana judge weeks before the election.  As I had suggested, heavy on the 9th Circuit judges’ concerns were what it would mean to lift these limits just before the election and the fact that the judge threw out a lar…

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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…

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Very Interesting Vermont Campaign Finance Ruling

Another interesting campaign finance case filed by the Right to Life Committees, and another interesting campaign finance case out of Vermont.  The decision on summary judgment denied the plaintiffs’ challenges to the application of Vermont’s law.  Along the way, the court offers an intriguing discussion on “major purpose” as a limit on regulating PACs, at odds with the Fourth and Tenth Circuits.  And an intriguing decisi…

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Thalheimer Case Concludes, Creating Good 9th Circuit Precedent

The time to appeal has passed in the litigation over challenges to a number of City of San Diego campaign finance laws. [Disclosure: I am one of the lawyers for the City of San Diego.]  The case went to the Ninth Circuit at the preliminary injunction stage but there was no appeal after the district court decided the cross-motions for summary judgment. Among other things, the Ninth Circuit held at the preliminary injunction stage that a ban on no…

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“Down the Rabbit Hole with Citizens United: Are Bans on Corporate Direct Campaign Contributions Still Constitutional?”

Jason Campbell has published this student note in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review.  Here is the abstract: Since the early twentieth century, the Tillman Act has barred corporations from contributing directly to candidates for federal office. In Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a related ban that prevented corporations from making independent expenditures in candidate elections. The legal foundation of the independen…

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Montana Supreme Court Campaign finance Decision Affront to the “Rule of Law”?

That’s Allen Dickerson’s claim.  Oh please.  The Montana Supreme Court took Justice Kennedy at his word and looked at the state’s evidence of corruption to justify its law.  That might be wrong—but it is not defying the rule of law. Want to talk about defying the rule of law?  Look at the district court decision in the Danielczyk case (now on appeal to the 4th Circuit), defying Supreme Court precedent on the constitutiona…

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Breaking News: Federal District Court in San Diego Upholds Corporate/Non-Individual Contribution Ban, Strikes Down $1,000 Political Party Contribution Limit

Agreeing with the Second Circuit and Eighth Circuit (now up on en banc appeal) and disagreeing with the district court in the Danielczyk case (now on appeal to the 4th Circuit), a federal district court in San Diego today had upheld the City of San Diego’s laws banning corporations, labor unions, and other non-individual entities (aside from political parties) from contributing money directly to candidates for City office. The opinion in T…

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“Citizen Bopp”

Viveca Novak has written this must-read profile of Jim Bopp for the American Prospect.  Viveca, a former Time correspondent who I got to know during Florida 2000, has recently taken up the position as Editorial and Communications Director for the Center for Responsive Politics. I’ll be going up against Citizen Bopp in federal district court in San Diego Friday in the Thalheimer challenge to the City of San Diego’s campaign finance la…

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Thank You and Happy New Year

Barring breaking legal developments (and we’ve seen an inordinate share of those in the last two weeks), posting will resume after New Year’s Day (and will be light the first week of January as I speak at AALS on Internet voting and at a panel on law blogging and argue for the City of San Diego on cross-motions for summary judgment in the Thalheimer campaign finance case). The year ahead will be a busy one for election law, and espec…

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2d Circuit Issues Important Campaign Finance Decision Affirming Constitutionality of NY “Pay to Play” Rules, Ban on Entity Contributions

The opinion is here [updated link].  See also this Thomson Reuters report.  Among other things, the opinion (1) confirms that lower level scrutiny applies to laws regulating contributions even after Citizens United (“Since the Supreme Court preserved the distinction between expenditures and contributions, there is no basis for Appellants’ attempt to broaden Citizens United. Appellants’ selective and misleading quotes carefully skip over th…

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Unanimous 4th Circuit Upholds Ban on Lobbyist Campaign Contributions; Big Implications for Pending Corporate Contributions Case

Good news in Preston v. Leake from the 4th Circuit, in a case which puts it at odds with the Second Circuit’s Green Party case.  (I discuss the Green Party case and the district court’s decision in Preston in my forthcoming lobbying paper in the Stanford Law Review.) Assuming this decision stands (that is, is not taken en banc or heard by the Supreme Court now given the Circuit split), it would provide a strong basis for upholding th…

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New Bopp Attack: Montana

The following press release arrived from the James Madison Center via email. Coalition Files Lawsuit Challenging Montana’s Campaign Finance Law  Montana residents Doug Lair and Steve Dogiakos, and American Tradition Partnership PAC want to give a couple hundred dollars in contributions to candidates that they like for the Montana State House. Montana, however, limits their contributions to just  $160, which is among the lowest limits in the co…

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Thalheimer Plaintiffs Will Not Petition for Cert. in San Diego Campaign Finance Case

In Thalheimer v. City of San Diego, the Ninth Circuit upheld the trial court’s denial of a preliminary injunction of the City’s law barring non-human contributions to candidates (the same issue as in the Danielczyk case in the 4th Circuit and the Swanson case in the 8th circuit).  The court also denied a preliminary injunction as to time limitations for candidates raising campaign contributions.  The Ninth Circuit also denied reheari…

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Breaking News: Rehearing En Banc Denied in Ninth Circuit San Diego Thalheimer Case

Big news from the Ninth Circuit.  The full court has denied rehearing en banc in this campaign finance case.  According to the order, no active judge on the court requested a vote in the case.  Among other things, the panel opinion held that a ban on non-human (e.g, corporate or union) direct contributions to candidates does not violate the First Amendment.  The court also held that a temporal limitation on campaign contributions (no contributio…

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Breaking News: Eighth Circuit Upholds Minnesota Ban on Direct Corporate Contributions to Candidates, Minnesota Corporate IE Disclosure Rules

In Minnesota Citizens Converned for Life, Inc. v. Swanson, the Eighth Circuit unanimously upheld a district court’s decision not to preliminarily enjoin Minnesota’s ban on direct corporate contributions. (One of the three judges wrote separately to question whether the Supreme Court ultimately might overrule its Beaumont case upholding the corporate contribution ban). The court split 2-1 on Minnesota’s rules governing corpora…

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“Lincoln Club Challenges San Diego’s Laws Restricting Contributions, Expenditures”

That’s the lead press release at the moment at the James Madison Center. Note that this is a suit against the county of San Diego. Jim Bopp and I are on opposite sides of a lawsuit raising similar issues involving the city of San Diego. That case, the Thalheimer case, is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit….

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State of Washington Beats Jim Bopp Twice in One Day

I earlier posted about the Supreme Court’s denial of a stay in the Family PAC case. Now the Ninth Circuit has issued this 74-page opinion upholding provisions of Washington State’s disclosure law against First Amendment challenge. The case was not posted at the usual time of day for 9th Circuit postings, and it is is in typescript form. That’s usually done for opinions issued on an expedited basis. I don’t know if the…

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“Unions, corporations can pool money for political action committees, under latest decision”

Michigan has apparently entered into a consent decree permitting corporate contributions to independent expenditure committees, converting this preliminary injunction into a permanent one. This comes on the heels of Thalheimer v. City of San Diego and the FEC’s Commonsense 10 Advisory Opinion, confronting the same issue at the city and federal level, respectively….

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Ninth Circuit Schedules Oral Argument in San Diego Campaign Finance Case

The San Diego campaign finance case, Thalheimer v. City of San Diego, will be heard by the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena on October 4. I plan to argue on behalf of the City of San Diego. One of the questions posed in the case is the constitutionality of San Diego law barring corporations, unions, and other non-human entities from contributing directly to candidates for City office. Also at issue is whether political parties have a constitutional r…

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First Plaintiffs’ Appellate Brief in San Diego Contributions Case

Following up on this post, I have posted at this link the Plaintiffs’ first brief in the San Diego Thalheimer case. (Jim Bopp is the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs). Among other arguments, the plaintiffs argue that corporations and other non-individual entities have a constitutional right to make campaign contributions directly to candidates. [Disclosure: I am co-counsel for the City of San Diego in this matter.]…

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San Diego’s Opening 9th Circuit Brief in Thalheimer v. City of San Diego

Today co-counsel and I filed this brief in the 9th Circuit, arguing against a district court order (1) preliminarily enjoining the City’s law barring individual (>$500) and non-individual (i.e., corporate, union, etc.) contributions to independent expenditure committees and (2) preliminarily enjoining, as to political parties, a ban on organizational direct contributions to candidates. Plaintiffs have cross-appealed, so there will be add…

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Jim Bopp to Be Booted Again in Supreme Court Election Case?

Jim Bopp has been the attorney in the RNC v. FEC litigation. But NBC now reports that “if the RNC loses [before the three judge court], it will ask Olson to represent them in a Supreme Court challenge.” Jim is not a friend of mine; indeed we are on the opposite sides of the San Diego/Thalheimer case right now. But here what I wrote when Bopp was replaced by Olson in the Citizens United case: “The Citizens United case was Bopp…

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City of San Diego Seeks Stay, Appeals Portion of Thalheimer Campaign Finance Case

I’ve been reporting on the preliminary injunction decision (and clarification of decision) in the Thalheimer v. City of San Diego campaign finance case. (I am co-counsel for the City in this case.) As I noted, the Court issued a split decision on Plaintiffs’ challenges. The City has now appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from parts of the adverse portions of these orders. In particular, the City i…

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