(photo courtesy of Colbert Report)
Campaign Legal Center President (and attorney at the law firm Caplin & Drysdale) Trevor Potter played an important role in the last election cycle: that of "personal lawyer" to comedian Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Mr. Colbert took on the absurdities of some of current campaign finance law and turned them into a running parody on his show this election cycle, with the help of Trevor. To watch video highlights of Trevor Potter's appearances on The Colbert Report, click here.
LULAC Files Action Against Harris County, Texas to Stop Discriminatory Practices Aimed at Preventing Minorities From VotingOct 11, 2012
Today, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and a number of Houston residents filed suit against Harris County in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas maintaining that Harris County officials wrongly rejected voter applications through discriminatory practices against Latino and African American applicants. Representing LULAC and the residents who filed suit are attorneys from the Campaign Legal Center, Project Vote, and Chad Dunn of Brazil & Dunn.
Among other things, LULAC filed the suit in an attempt to stop the discriminatory purging of registered Latino and Black voters in Harris County. In the petition, LULAC asserts the following claims:
- Oct 10, 2012
You can’t even watch the playoffs these days without being bombarded by political attack ads by groups who won’t say where they get their money. Some political operatives now tell us if party committees could just take unlimited donations, the ads by these outside groups will go away. If you’re buying that, I bet they’ve got a bridge to sell you as well.
Unlimited contributions to political parties would be a huge mistake. All this proposed “reform” would do is give wealthy donors who are currently financing independent expenditures yet another avenue to buy access and influence with candidates and officeholders.
Large contributions to candidates and political parties corrupt and create the appearance of corruption, decreasing public confidence in government and our democratic process.
Three-Judge Court Halts South Carolina Voter ID Law for 2012 Election: Statement of J. Gerald HebertOct 10, 2012
We are pleased the court did not approve this law for the 2012 Election as tens of thousands of registered voters would have been disenfranchised. The state was ill-prepared to implement its photo voter ID law for the 2012 election and it was forced to continually change the law during the course of the trial in order to safeguard voting rights. Ultimately the law that the court has approved for 2013 and beyond is a huge departure from the bill enacted by the South Carolina legislature.
- Oct 10, 2012
The rush of litigation challenging campaign finance and disclosure laws continues unabated more than two years after the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision. In addition to these challenges, the upcoming election has spurred a new wave of litigation over state voter purges and controversial voter photo identification laws. For your reference, the Campaign Legal Center has updated a summary document of recent cases of interest at the federal, state and municipal level. The summary provides a brief description of pending and recently decided cases, and the Legal Center’s involvement in those cases.
- Oct 5, 2012
Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a motion for preliminary injunction in a constitutional challenge to Illinois contribution limits inIllinois Liberty PAC (ILP) v. Madigan. Specifically, ILP challenged the contribution limits of $50,000 per election from PACs to a candidate for state office, $5,000 per election cycle from individuals to a candidate for state office, and $10,000 per election cycle from an individual to a PAC. The Campaign Legal Center, with the assistance of local counsel David R. Melton and Thomas Rosenwein, filed a briefamici curiae in support of the state law limits on behalf of itself, together with Chicago Appleseed and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
- Oct 5, 2012
An as applied challenge to the constitutionality of disclosure provisions for groups running “electioneering communications” was turned away by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Hispanic Leadership Fund (HLF) v. the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The organization is seeking to air television advertisements criticizing President Obama without complying with “electioneering communication” disclosure requirements. The court upheld the constitutionality of the requirements and rejected HLF’s argument that references to “the White House” and “the Administration” in three of the group’s ads do not constitute unambiguous references to a clearly identified federal candidate—part of the legal definition of “electioneering communication.” The court, however, ruled that two of HLF’s five proposed ads would not meet the definition.
Watchdogs Criticize FEC for Disregarding Public Comment Period, File Comments on Tea Party Leadership Fund Advisory Opinion RequestOct 3, 2012
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed commentscriticizing the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for scheduling consideration of Advisory Opinion Request (AOR) 2012-32 at a meeting tomorrow, before the statutorily-required 10-day public comment period ends Friday. Furthermore, regarding the substance of the AOR, the Legal Center argues that the Commission has no authority to grant the Tea Party Leadership Fund (TPLF) request that the Commission declare a statute unconstitutional.
Federal Court in Wyoming Sides with Campaign Legal Center & Democracy 21, Rejects Latest Disclosure ChallengeOct 3, 2012
Today, a federal court in Wyoming dealt another setback to groups challenging disclosure laws nationwide. Citing a “wall of precedent” upholding disclosure laws, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl refused to preliminarily enjoin a number of FEC regulations and policies that implement the federal disclosure laws in Free Speech v. FEC. Specifically, Free Speech is challenging the “subpart (b)” definition of “expressly advocating” (11 C.F.R. § 100.22(b) and the FEC’s methodology for determining when a group has campaign activity as its “major purpose” – both crucial regulations in implementing the disclosure requirements applicable to about independent spending in federal elections.
- Oct 2, 2012
It seems like an obvious proposition, that a citizen registering to vote casting a ballot, is engaged in free speech, a fundamental right entitled to full protection under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The proposition seems especially obvious in light of the broad First Amendment protection extended to the dollars spent by financial contributors to influence our votes.
But that is not how the Supreme Court sees it. Spending in elections -- by candidates, political parties, individuals, corporations, labor unions, and others -- is treated as free speech entitled to broad First Amendment protection against state and federal limitation. Registering and voting, on the other hand, do not have such protection and can be restricted within states' broad discretion.