A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a challenge to a long-standing ban on U.S. government contractors making campaign contributions in federal elections, emphasizing that the policy was put in place to prevent corruption. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against three individual contractors who contended that the ban violated their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under the law. Writing on behalf of an 11-judge panel, Chief Judge Merrick Garland wrote that “the concerns that spurred the original bar remain as important today as when the statute was enacted” in 1940.
The U.S. Federal Election Commission, which defended the law, said in court papers the ban was needed to prevent corruption and interference with government decision-making.
The case did not touch upon the campaign contributions ban on corporations that have contracts with the federal government.
Garland wrote that the original law was prompted by a corruption scandal involving federal contracts. “The statute was itself the outgrowth of a decades-long congressional effort to prevent corruption and ensure the merit-based administration of the national government,” Garland wrote.