The progressive advocacy group Demos released a study examining the demographics of the “elite donor” class, arguing that its makeup unfairly shapes policy formation in America. Their study finds that the biggest political contributors are proportionally more white and male than small and non-donors, that their policy preferences are more conservative than Americans as a […]
Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Money in Politics, Super PACs, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing, Buckley v. Valeo, Demos, Elite Donors, Small Donors
Hon. Neil Gorsuch United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (2006-Present) This post covers two First Amendment retaliation cases by Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch writes one opinion and joins another in cases constrained by precedent. Casey v. West Las Vegas Ind. School Dist., 473 F. 3d 1323 (10th Cir. […]
By Editorial Board
Donor disclosure has become a weapon of political intimidation, and it could get worse. The Supreme Court will soon consider whether ads that discuss policy issues without advocating for a candidate can be regulated and the names of their financial backers disclosed under campaign-finance laws…
The 2002 McCain-Feingold Act says that any group that runs an ad including the name of a candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election must disclose its donors like a political-action committee. Yet the Independence Institute merely intended to communicate with voters on issues, not advocate for a candidate…
The Supreme Court will consider the Independence Institute appeal in a private conference Friday. If the Justices uphold the lower court, much more political speech will fall under the federal campaign-finance dragnet. Here’s hoping Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, will clarify that donor disclosure violates the Constitution when it imposes undue burdens on Americans who advocate for causes-especially those that might be unpopular.
Featuring Luke Wachob and Caleb O. Brown
Massive protests greeted Donald Trump upon his inauguration, but speaking out against the president will require a robust First Amendment. Will the American Left support it? Luke Wachob of the Center for Competitive Politics believes so.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
A filing due next month in a key Supreme Court case could provide the first indication of whether the Trump administration will seek to uphold or challenge longstanding campaign finance laws that restrict unlimited “soft money” contributions to political parties (Republican Party of Louisiana v. Federal Election Commission, U.S., No. 16-865, jurisdictional statement filed 1/6/17)…
The high court also has another pending campaign finance case challenging FEC disclosure rules for political ads known as “electioneering communications,” Independence Institute v. FEC. The justices are set to consider at their private conference Feb. 17 whether to accept the Independence Institute case for a full review and oral argument.
With the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia, the court is now evenly divided between four justices who have voted consistently to roll back campaign finance rules and four justices who have generally supported current rules. Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Scalia’s death, has been criticized by supporters of strong campaign finance rules, who say that, like Scalia, Gorsuch is expected to continue on the path toward less regulation of money in politics.
Hon. Neil Gorsuch United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (2006-Present) This post reviews an opinion Judge Gorsuch joined that raised constitutional questions about the vagueness of an as-applied challenge to a disorderly conduct ordinance. Galbreath v. City of Oklahoma City, (10th Cir. 2014) A high-heeled man with a cane performing ballet routines […]
By Eric Wang
Senate Bill 255 appears to require an “independent expenditure committee” to file ongoing campaign finance reports as a political “committee” – commonly known as “PAC.” The bill’s extreme ambiguity on this point is, in and of itself, a fatal flaw. What is clear is that the bill intends to publicly out the donors to such groups – even if their donations were completely unrelated to any political purpose. Names, addresses and employer information would have to be reported not only for donors, but also for a group’s employees and vendors.
“Not surprisingly,” the Post and Courier editorial noted approvingly, the state officials pushing this bill are ones whose legislative initiatives advocacy groups have opposed. We fail to see the virtue here. Yes, it is “not surprising” that certain public officials would lash out at citizen groups that do not fall in line with those officials’ agendas. But far from promoting ethics, a bill to intimidate those groups into silence is a recipe for more corruption.
Citizens who want to know donors’ identities are free to discount messages from groups that do not provide that information. Forcing disclosure, however, deprives citizens of the chance to hear from groups that would be silenced by bills like SB 255.
Pillar of Law: Common Cause Wary of Judge Who Cleaned Up Part of Their Mess in Colorado (In the News)
By Stephen Klein
Rather than acknowledge its goof in helping create the “ill-advised Colorado statute” that led to the Riddle case, Common Cause now warns of the level of scrutiny Judge Gorsuch might apply generally to campaign finance limits. But the problems with Amendment 27 did not end with Riddle: Common Cause’s jewel is in many other ways the antithesis to “a functioning democracy to debate our differences” and one of the main reasons we need judges like Gorsuch who should apply the strictest First Amendment scrutiny to campaign finance regimes.
Thanks to Amendment 27, grassroots speakers in Colorado have had to go to federal court to fight off campaign finance requirements over raising just a few thousand dollars to fight a local annexation effort. To comply with registration and reporting requirements to raise and spend so little money would eat up most of the budget. More recently, another group had to bring a similar suit just to publish a policy paper. The cases took years to resolve, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.