By David Keating
The minor party contributors who bring this equal protection challenge suggest (at least in places) that we should consider applying strict scrutiny to this particular aspect of Colorado’s statutory scheme. They say that contributing in elections implicates a fundamental liberty interest, that Colorado’s scheme favors the exercise of that fundamental liberty interest by some at the expense of others, and for this reason warrants the most searching level of judicial scrutiny. For my part, I don’t doubt this line of argument has much to recommend it. The trouble is, we have no controlling guidance on the question from the Supreme Court. And in what guidance we do have lie some conflicting cues.
No one before us disputes that the act of contributing to political campaigns implicates a “basic constitutional freedom,” one lying “at the foundation of a free society” and enjoying a significant relationship to the right to speak and associate – both expressly protected First Amendment activities. Even so, the Court has yet to apply strict scrutiny to contribution limit challenges – employing instead something pretty close but not quite the same thing.