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7th Circuit enjoins limits on 'super' PAC contributions

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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.”
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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