Three key campaign-finance challenges, one already at the U.S. Supreme Court, seek to push through doors left open by the justices’ controversial Citizens United decision. Advocates and opponents of campaign-finance regulations are watching, in particular, U.S. v. Danielczyk, now being briefed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The government is appealing a district court ruling that struck down the federal ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates.
The two other challenges tackle federal prohibitions against foreign campaign contributions and contributions by individuals with federal contracts. “These lawsuits are all at least theoretically outgrowths from Citizens United,” said Tara Malloy of the Campaign Legal Center. In Citizens United v. FEC, a 5-4 Court struck down the federal ban on the use of general treasury funds by corporations for independent campaign expenditures. “Citizens United is, of course, not directly on point in terms of the law, but its reasoning is certainly being used in new areas of campaign-finance law,” said Malloy. The plaintiffs in the three cases are using, to different degrees, language in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion that campaign-finance regulations cannot discriminate based on the identity of the speaker, Malloy said. “This is not necessarily even the holding but it is this type of reasoning that is being leveraged,” she added.
The three federal cases, while significant in their own right, are only a small part of a national landscape littered with campaign-finance challenges post-Citizens United. Attacks on state laws banning direct corporate contributions are underway in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana and Texas, and there are dozens of challenges to state disclosure laws, many mounted by the lawyer who brought the Citizens United case to the Supreme Court — James Bopp Jr. of Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom of Terre Haute, Ind.
“Danielczyk is the challenge most obviously focused on federal restrictions, but if any of these cases were to go to the Supreme Court, the basic principle would very much be at issue,” said Malloy, whose organization has filed an amicus brief supporting the government. “There are multiple avenues anti-reform litigators are pursuing to get to the Supreme Court.”
Full Article: Three Campaign-Finance Lawsuits On the Heels of ‘Citizens’.