Most Americans last heard from conservative lawyer Jim Bopp six years ago when he crafted a case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that won the Supreme Court’s favor and helped uncork a torrent of cash—some of it secret—that continues pouring into elections. But Bopp is back. The Terre Haute, Indiana-based attorney, who was literally laughed at by a judge when he made his first arguments in Citizens United, is now the lead lawyer in the most prominent of a series of lawsuits attempting to further destroy political contribution limits. The case, brought by the Republican Party of Louisiana, addresses restrictions on how state and local political parties use “soft money” contributions to influence federal elections. Bopp’s clients argue that if independent outside groups such as super PACs are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of such money, there’s no reason why state political parties, acting independently of federal candidates, should be treated differently. Political parties are “disadvantaged” compared with super PACs, Bopp said in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity. “They want to compete, and they want to do this activity without the severe restrictions that they suffer under,” said Bopp.
Editorials: Next Chance To Gut Campaign Finance Law Heads For Supreme Court | Paul Blumenthal/Huffington Post
The next domino in the effort to erase campaign finance restrictions has just been pushed. A case attacking the McCain-Feingold reform law’s ban on unlimited contributions to political parties has been set on a path that almost certainly ends at the Supreme Court. With the help of Citizens United lawyer Jim Bopp, the Republican Party of Louisiana and the Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish Republican Party sued to allow state and local parties to raise enormous sums under looser state laws and then spend them on federal elections. That practice is currently banned by restrictions on the use of “soft money” — unlimited contributions to political parties that pay for so-called party-building activities, as opposed to supporting specific candidates. The ban came after Senate investigations found that both parties had abused their soft money accounts to evade campaign contribution limits. Money meant for party-building activities was spent on ads promoting candidates. The Senate’s investigations also found that soft money donors were provided increased access and influence in policy making.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case many — including my GovBeat colleague Niraj — have dubbed the next Citizens United. McCutcheon challenges the government-set aggregate limits on how much an individual can contribute to federal candidates. It’s the latest salvo in a coordinated drive by conservative lawyers to undermine campaign finance reforms. And those conservative lawyers aren’t waiting for McCutcheon to be decided before they tee up their next assault — this time on rules against corporations contributing to candidates. Last week, Indiana attorney Jim Bopp Jr., on behalf of the Iowa Right to Life Committee, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review Iowa’s ban on political contributions by corporations. Bopp says Iowa’s rules, which allow labor unions to give but prohibit corporations from donating to candidates, violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee, along with the right to free speech.
Iowa: Right to Life Asks the Supreme Court to Overturn Ban on Corporate Contributions | Iowa’s Appellate Blog
After scoring a relatively successful victory before the Eighth Circuit, conservative election law attorney Jim Bopp is taking his case to overturn parts of Iowa’s campaign finance law to the United States Supreme Court. In a recently filed cert petition, Mr. Bopp — the lead counsel for Iowa Right to Life in the Iowa
Right to Live v. Tooker litigation (a case which we have previously covered on this blog here, here, and here)— has asked the Supreme Court to review two specific questions regarding the constitutionality of Iowa’s campaign finance laws. First, Iowa Right to Life wants to know whether Iowa’s ban on direct corporation-to-candidate contributions is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Iowa Right to Life argues that prohibiting corporations from donating directly to candidates whom they support while allowing other entities, such as labor unions, the ability to make direct contributions constitutes unequal treatment between similarly situated would-be contributors. This argument was rejected by the Eighth Circuit.
Editorials: McCutcheon case could give Citizens United a run for its money in Supreme Court | The Washington Post
McCutcheon could be the new Citizens United. The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to hear a campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in its next term gives the justices a chance to continue their dismantling of restrictions on money in politics, most notably with the landmark Citizens United v. FEC decision of early 2010. With the new case, the court could strike a blow against fundraising limits for federal candidates and political parties. The case does not challenge the $2,600 cap on donations to a single candidate’s campaign but rather the overall limit — $123,000 — that one person can give over a two-year election cycle. Removing that ceiling would allow a single donor to give the maximum amount to more candidates and, crucially, to political parties such as the Republican National Committee, which brought the lawsuit along with Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman and conservative activist. The court decided decades ago that the government is constitutionally permitted to limit donations to candidates with the goal of fighting corruption. But the RNC argues that there’s no constitutional rationale for limiting how much one donor can give to many candidates. The thinking goes that because each candidate receives only $2,600, none of them ends up corrupted.
Voting Blogs: Jim Bopp Goes for Broke in Montana Campaign Finance Case, and Just Might Get It | Election Law Blog
Today the James Madison Center filed this application for a stay of the Montana Supreme Court ruling upholding state law barring corporate independent spending in state elections. As I have explained,the opinion upholds Montana’s ban on independent corporate spending on state elections, and it seems to run headlong into the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United. Eugene Volokh predicts the Court will hear the case and reverse, and Calvin Massey predicts a summary reversal. (More analysis from SCOTUSBlog.)
For months, Secretary of State Charlie White tried to fend off Democrats’ challenge to his eligibility to hold office. He also tried to secure a promise that what he said during an election hearing Tuesday couldn’t be used against him in an ongoing criminal investigation in Hamilton County.
But when the Indiana Recount Commission hearing began, White seemed only too happy to provide the details of his personal life that are related to that challenge.
However, those details seemed to do little to conclusively answer the question Democrats are raising: Was White illegally registered to vote when he ran for office?
Allegations before the Indiana Recount Commission on Tuesday boiled down to whether Charlie White lived with his ex-wife or in a home he purchased to be with his fiancée when he ran for office in 2010.
That issue alone could decide whether he was legally registered to vote – and therefore hold the office of secretary of state that he won later that year. The panel won’t render a decision until a June 30 hearing.
White is accused of intentionally voting in a precinct where he no longer lived, and he is fighting two battles simultaneously. On the criminal side, he faces seven felony counts including voter fraud and perjury. If convicted of a felony, he must resign and the governor would appoint a successor.
The long-awaited hearing to decide the fate of the Secretary of State’s office kicked off Tuesday with testimony from Charlie White himself. White answered all questions asked at the Indiana Recount Commission hearing about confusion over his residency, despite the fact that his testimony can be used against him in criminal court.
He is accused of intentionally voting in a precinct where he no longer lived, and he is fighting two battles simultaneously. On the criminal side, he faces seven felony counts including voter fraud and perjury. If convicted of a felony, he must resign and the governor would appoint a successor. On the civil side, Democrats have forced a recount hearing in which a three-member panel controlled by Republicans will rule on whether White was ineligible to be on the ballot because he wasn’t legally registered to vote.
If they agree, Democrat Vop Osili – who came in second in the contest – would take over the office.
Secretary of State Charlie White has lost another preliminary round ahead of a Tuesday hearing on whether he can stay in office. Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg has rejected White’s request for immunity for his testimony at a Recount Commission hearing.
White’s facing a criminal trial in August on related charges, accusing him of voting from an address he’d already moved away from. Attorney Jim Bopp says allowing prosecutors to scour his testimony before the commission leaves him with “an unconscionable choice” between mounting his best defense in the criminal case or the election case.
Anything Secretary of State Charlie White says at an election hearing Tuesday can be used against him in his criminal case in Hamilton County, a Marion Circuit Court judge ruled this morning. White’s attorney, Jim Bopp, said he is considering fighting the ruling in the Court of Appeals. If he appeals, he would ask for an expedited ruling so Tuesday’s hearing could continue as planned.
The Indiana Recount Commission will hear arguments and testimony Tuesday regarding Democrats’ complaint that White was illegally registered to vote at the time he declared his candidacy and shouldn’t be allowed to hold office. The Democrats say that White’s Democrat opponent, Vop Osili, should replace White.
Secretary of State Charlie White will be asked today to publicly answer Democrats’ claims that he was illegally registered to vote last year when he declared his candidacy. The Indiana Recount Commission will hold a hearing this morning to hear testimony and arguments over whether he should be removed from office.
But it’s uncertain how many questions White, who is also facing felony charges that include voter fraud, will answer. A judge ruled Monday that anything he says can be used against him in the Hamilton County criminal case.
Charlie White is asking a judge to prevent his testimony during an election hearing Tuesday from being used against him in his criminal case. Marion Circuit Court has agreed to consider the issue Monday morning, just one day before the hearing.
The Indiana Recount Commission will hear testimony Tuesday regarding Democrats’ complaint that White was illegally registered to vote at the time he declared his candidacy for Secretary of State and shouldn’t be allowed to hold office. Democrats say that the Republican White’s opponent, Vop Osili, should replace White.
White has unsuccessfully sought to halt the Democrats’ complaint until his criminal case in Hamilton County is resolved. He has been charged with seven felonies, including three counts of voter fraud, and his trial is scheduled for Aug. 8.