Minnesota is the latest front in what has developed into a national fight over federal and state campaign finance laws whose ultimate target may be the laws restricting how much individuals can give to political campaigns. Last week, a group of citizens and lawmakers filed suit [PDF] against one of Minnesota’s campaign finance laws limiting the number of big-dollar donations candidates can receive from so-called “special sources”—political action committees, lobbyists and donors willing to make the biggest legally permissible contributions to campaigns. The law applies only to state elections, as do many of the other campaign finance lawsuits in the works or on the way (federal candidates are regulated by federal law). The lawsuit came just a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the overall limit on how much donors can give to federal candidates in an election cycle.
Though the lawyers behind the Minnesota suit said they were planning it before the McCutcheon decision [PDF], the ruling accelerated their timeline for filing the complaint.Even if the Minnesota lawsuit isn’t a direct result of McCutcheon, it continues a trend experts say began around the time the John Roberts-led Supreme Court began knocking down campaign finance regulations in the mid-2000s: more legal challenges to federal and state laws, and more deregulatory orders from the courts.