ILNews

7th Circuit enjoins limits on 'super' PAC contributions

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A prominent Terre Haute attorney known for his work challenging campaign finance laws and regulations scored another legal victory after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined state limits on contributions to what’s known as "super" political action committees.

Jim Bopp represents the Wisconsin Right to Life State Political Action Committee, which wants to contribute money to campaigns before the upcoming Wisconsin special-general elections this month. It describes these contributions as "political speech." Bopp argued the state shouldn’t be able to prohibit these independent contributions.

On Monday, a three-judge appellate panel stopped Wisconsin from trying to enforce money limits received by all types of PACs, including those “super PACs” born after the landmark ruling last year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010). That decision allowed for unlimited contributions by corporations, unions, individuals, and private groups for political campaigns, and it effectively lifted many of the spending and contribution limits that had been in place for years federally and in states. Direct contributions and coordination from candidates and political parties is still prohibited, and the donors don’t have to be disclosed.

The four-page order issued by Circuit Judges David F. Hamilton, Daniel Manion, and Ilana Diamond Rovner found the Wisconsin super PAC demonstrated that it’s reasonably likely to succeed on the merits and that a pending Wisconsin Supreme Court case likely won’t resolve the constitutionality of the state law applied to the super PAC.

“Regardless of whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds (Wis. Admin. Code GAB) §1.28, the aggregate contribution limit will apply to contributions WRTL-SPAC receives,” the order states, referring to similar holdings in the District of Columbia, and 4th and 9th Circuits.

With that, the federal panel granted an injunction against Wisconsin – and effectively other states that may try to impose similar limits on PACs – from enforcing a total contribution limit “on any non-coordinated expenditures by individuals or committees.” In this case, that limit was $10,000.

The judges also expedited the appeal, given the special elections are Aug. 9 and 16. The parties have until the first week of September to finish their briefing, and no extensions will be allowed without any extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances. Oral arguments are planned for the week of either Sept. 12 or 19, the order says.

“This is a victory for free speech by super PACs,” said Bopp, with law firm Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom. “It’s flatly unconstitutional to limit contributions to political committees.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

  2. The Department of Education still has over $100 million of ITT Education Services money in the form of $100+ million Letters of Credit. That money was supposed to be used by The DOE to help students. The DOE did nothing to help students. The DOE essentially stole the money from ITT Tech and still has the money. The trustee should be going after the DOE to get the money back for people who are owed that money, including shareholders.

  3. Do you know who the sponsor of the last-minute amendment was?

  4. Law firms of over 50 don't deliver good value, thats what this survey really tells you. Anybody that has seen what they bill for compared to what they deliver knows that already, however.

  5. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

ADVERTISEMENT