Thursday, June 9, 2011
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9th Circuit: Parties May Contribute To Candidates; No Limit for IE Contributions
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a ruling vindicating the political speech and association rights of corporations and political parties. The ruling affirmed a lower court’s decision to enjoin certain San Diego campaign finance laws. This decision upheld the right of political parties to make contributions to their candidates, and the right of individuals, associations, and corporations to make unlimited contributions to committees making independent expenditures.
James Bopp, Jr., counsel for the plaintiffs, commented, “One of the important purposes of political parties is to elect their candidates to office. It is absurd to forbid them from giving money to support their candidates. The Ninth Circuit understood that the First Amendment gives citizens the right to band together in political parties, and that political parties have a First Amendment right to financially support their candidates.” About the independent expenditure ruling, Mr. Bopp said, “The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no permissible reason for the government to limit independent expenditures themselves. This is true even when the expenditures are made by corporations. It naturally follows that if the expenditures cannot be limited, then money to groups making expenditures cannot be limited either, even when the money comes from associations and corporations.”
The Ninth Circuit’s decision also ruled that San Diego’s laws banning direct corporate contributions to candidates, and preventing candidates from accepting contributions more than a year before the primary, are likely constitutional. Mr. Bopp disagreed with the Court, explaining, “Both these bans are bans on political speech and association. And the Supreme Court has said that while limits may be acceptable, bans are not.” Mr. Bopp said that these rulings may yet be overturned by subsequent litigation in this case.
The case is known as Thalheimer v. City of San Diego. The Ninth Circuit’s decision is availably athttp://www.jamesmadisoncenter.org/cases/files/2011/06/Dkt-76-1-OPINION.pdf. The other documents from this case are athttp://www.jamesmadisoncenter.org/cases/06-09-2011/486/.
James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is an attorney with Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom and General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech. He is also a former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.