The sweeping language and logic of Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision on campaign finance may imperil other legal restrictions on money in politics. The 5-to-4 decision, which struck down overall limits on contributions by individuals to candidates and parties, was the latest in a series of campaign finance decisions from the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. that took an expansive view of First Amendment rights and a narrow one of political corruption. According to experts in election law, there is no reason to think that the march toward deregulating election spending will stop with the ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. “Those who support limits see the court right now as the T. Rex from ‘Jurassic Park,’” said Justin Levitt, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “What’s next? ‘Just don’t move. He can’t see us if we don’t move.’” For now, federal law bars corporations from making contributions to candidates, though they can spend what they like independently to support or oppose candidates. Contributions from individuals to candidates are capped at $2,600 per election. Individual contributions to political parties are capped, too. Public financing of elections is allowed.Full Article: Ruling Hints More Campaign Finance Dominoes May Fall - NYTimes.com.
Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and his GOP allies insist their Supreme Court challenge to a cap on overall campaign contributions in one election cycle doesn’t dispute the constitutionality of the “base” limit on how much an individual can give to a single candidate in a single election. “This case is not about base limits; they make sense,” said McCutcheon, whose challenge in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is scheduled for oral argument before the Supreme Court on Oct. 8. “The corruption argument on base limits is pretty solid. If you were running for Congress and I gave you $1 million, wouldn’t you owe me?” The Republican National Committee has joined McCutcheon in arguing that the aggregate limits muzzle free speech. Indiana lawyer James Bopp Jr., who is representing the RNC in the case, also stresses: “We’re not challenging base limits in this case.” The case is shaping up as a key test of how far this high court is willing to deregulate the campaign finance system.Full Article: The End of Contribution Limits? | Rules of the Game | Beltway Insiders.
Alabama businessman and conservative activist Shaun McCutcheon donated $33,088 to 16 candidates during the 2012 election cycle, but he wanted to give much more. Had he not hit Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign contribution limits, McCutcheon said he would have given money to a dozen more candidates and an additional $25,000 to three Republican Party political committees. Did the FEC’s rules violate his First Amendment rights? McCutcheon thought so, and took his case to a lawyer, who in turn, reached out to prominent conservative lawyer James Bopp, Jr. “As it turned out, I already represented the Republican National Committee, and it was their plan to challenge this limit,” said Bopp, who is the intellectual architect behind the landmark 2010 Citizens United case. “So we joined up together.” Last week, both McCutcheon and the RNC got some good news when the when the Supreme Court announced it would hear their case next term.Full Article: Will the Supreme Court Lift Political Contribution Limits? | Big Sky, Big Money | FRONTLINE | PBS.
Call them the voter fraud brain trust. A cadre of influential Washington, D.C., election lawyers has mobilized a sophisticated anti-fraud campaign built around lawsuits, white papers, Congressional testimony, speeches and even best-selling books. Less well-known than Indiana election lawyer James Bopp Jr., who’s made a national name for himself challenging the political money laws, conservative veterans of voting wars such as Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams nonetheless play a role similar to Bopp’s in their behind-the-scenes fight to protect ballot integrity. Both former Justice Department officials, von Spakovsky and Adams have worked alongside such anti-fraud activists as Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, and Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the tea party group True the Vote.Full Article: Conservative Veterans of Voting Wars Cite Ballot Integrity to Justify Fight : Roll Call Lobbying & Influence.
Since the mid-2000s, a small cadre of lawyers and activists has reshaped the role of money in American politics. Led by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), attorney James Bopp, Jr., and law professor and activist Brad Smith, this group has won a string of victories that have imploded campaign finance laws. Citizens United? That was Bopp. Super-PACs? Thank Smith’s Center for Competitive Politics. The 2010 and 2012 DISCLOSE Act filibusters? All McConnell. But it’s been rough going for the deregulators as of late. They’ve lost a slew of cases intended to gut existing political disclosure laws. They’ve failed to knock down bans on contribution limits. And despite their objections, the Internal Revenue Service has said it might revisit how it regulates dark-money nonprofit groups, which outspent super-PACs 3-to-2 in the 2010 elections and unloaded at least $172 million through June of this election cycle. “The free speech crew’s winning streak has hit a bump in the road,” says Neil Reiff, an election law attorney who used to work for the Democratic National Committee.Full Article: The Reformers Strike Back! | Mother Jones.
With the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirming the rights of corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money, Minnesota’s restrictions on corporate donations could hang on a pending appeals court ruling. Two advocacy groups and a business challenging the Minnesota law say the state’s limits reach beyond the Supreme Court’s intent. On Monday, the nation’s highest court struck down Montana’s 100-year-old ban on corporate money in politics, a ruling consistent with the Citizens United decision that paved the way for unlimited corporate spending in federal elections as long as the money is independent of the campaign it is intended to help. In response to that ruling, Minnesota’s campaign finance law was revised by the Legislature in 2010 to allow for unlimited corporate contributions. But the state also requires donors to funnel those contributions through political action committees that must file disclosure reports, a condition that quickly drew a legal challenge.Full Article: High court ruling throws state campaign law into doubt | StarTribune.com.
A court ruling rejecting Federal Election Commission disclosure requirements as too lax has left political players unsure how much they need to report about the financing of issue ads, making the agency a battleground in the dispute over secret money in 2012. The March 30 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson orders the FEC to rewrite disclosure rules drafted after enactment of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that the court deemed inadequate. Few expect the six-member agency to comply promptly with the order. Divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats, the FEC is notorious for partisan deadlocks. It hasn’t yet mustered a quorum to weigh new regulations arising from the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, though it did say it would no longer enforce restrictions that kept labor unions and corporations from making political expenditures.Full Article: FEC Ruling Leaves Ad Uncertainty : Roll Call Politics.
Montana: Citizens United Part II: Montana Supreme Court Collides With U.S. Supreme Court | Huffington Post
The fate of Montana’s century-old ban on corporate political spending is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, setting up a possible sequel to the hotly contested Citizens United decision handed down two years ago. In 2010, a five-member majority of the U.S. Supreme Court declared that corporations’ independent spending in elections does not corrupt — or even appear to corrupt — the political process. On Wednesday, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock submitted a brief to the Court with facts that suggest otherwise as he urged the justices to uphold his state’s ban on corporate political spending.Full Article: Citizens United Part II: Montana Supreme Court Collides With U.S. Supreme Court.
The Republican lawyer on the case that arguably helped pave the way for the creation of so-called “super PACs” told TPM this week that he hopes politicians will realize that the contribution limits on their campaigns are putting them at a huge disadvantage, and will pass legislation dashing such restrictions. An odd position for a key player in the opening of the anonymous-campaign-cash floodgates to have? James Bopp Jr. says no. “I’m very hopeful and actually expect that incumbent politicians are going to look at themselves and say we are severely handicapped” in comparison to super PACs, Bopp told TPM, arguing that political campaigns were more accountable to voters than super PACs. “It is of course possible that there would be a court decision that would effect that. But I think the more likely scenario is that members of Congress will realize they have cut their own throat,” Bopp said.Full Article: Citizens United Lawyer: I Hate Super PACs Too | TPMMuckraker.
Members of Occupy Terre Haute and Occupy Nomads stood in front of the Terre Haute offices of attorney James Bopp Jr. on Friday to call for a constitutional amendment on the second anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on political campaign funding. In Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission, the high court stated that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people and can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections, said Leigh Chapman, a Terre Haute resident and member of Occupy Terre Haute. Bopp took the case to the Supreme Court, while another attorney presented the issue before the court.Full Article: Bopp’s office site of Occupy protest on campaign funds case » Local & Bistate » News From Terre Haute, Indiana.