An obscure legal challenge in the Land of the Midnight Sun may join a recent line of U.S. Supreme Court cases that have shaken up the status quo in campaign finance law. The case is Thompson v. Hebdon. David Thompson and District 18 of the Alaska Republican Party are challenging a section of the state constitution imposing a $500 cap on contributions to candidates, and a $5,000 cap on donations to political parties. Although a limit on contributions by out-of-state residents to candidates and political parties is drawing the most attention, restrictions on contributions made by in-state residents also will face scrutiny — and possible changes — if the case reaches the nation’s highest court.
In addition to the caps, Alaska’s law places various aggregate limits on the amount a candidate or a political party can collect from out-of-state individuals.
For example, a candidate for the state’s House of Representatives can accept only $3,000 in total contributions from non-residents of Alaska. Out-of-state individuals may contribute up to $500 to a candidate, as long as the candidate has not reached the $3,000 threshold.