CLC Update April 16, 2010

CLC Staff
Apr 16, 2010
  1. Legal Center Files Amici Brief in Ninth Circuit Case Challenging Limits on Contributions to PACs
  2. Policy Director and Board Member Join Panel Debate of Congressional Response to Citizens United Ruling
  3. Executive Director Addresses NCSL Redistricting Conference


Files Amici Brief In Ninth Circuit Case Challenging Limits On Contributions To PACs

On April 9, 2010, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by the Center for Governmental Studies and Common Cause, filed a brief amici curiae in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, supporting the City of San Diego in its defense of limits on contributions to non-candidate / non-party political committees in Thalheimer v. City of San Diego.

The challenged San Diego law provides that a "general purpose recipient committee" may only use individual contributions—not contributions from corporations, labor unions or other non-individual entities—to support or oppose a municipal candidate by making independent expenditures, and those contributions may only be up to $500 per individual contributor. On February 16, 2010, the district court preliminarily enjoined the City's enforcement of the contribution limit.

The Legal Center argues in its brief to the Ninth Circuit that the district court's decision was an abuse of discretion and in error, and that the Ninth Circuit should reverse the decision. Specifically, the Legal Center argues that the district court erroneously applied the strict scrutiny analysis of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, striking down a spending limit, to the San Diego law, which is a contribution limit that should have been subjected to a lower degree of scrutiny. Also, the district court erred in concluding that San Diego's interest in preventing actual or apparent corruption would justify only limits on "direct contributions to candidates," not limits on contributions to committees making independent expenditures.


Policy Director and Board Member Join Panel Debate of Congressional Response to Citizens United Ruling

On April 8, 2010, Policy Director, Meredith McGehee, and Board Member, Scott Thomas, participated in a panel debate entitled, "Campaign Finance Law After Citizens United" sponsored by the Center for Competitive Politics. The panel, held in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, focused on the legislative response to the Citizens United ruling and the framework that Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Christopher Van Hollen introduced in February. Both McGehee and Thomas advocated for tougher disclosure requirements that would hold corporations accountable for their political activity.


Executive Director Addresses NCSL Redistricting Conference

On April 9, 2010, Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert attended and spoke at a redistricting conference sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hebert participated in a panel entitled "The Redistricting Process—How's It's Done and What States Might Do to Change It." Hebert summarized various strategies that several states have undertaken to achieve redistricting reform, from legislative criteria to independent commissions. Hebert emphasized that there is no single correct approach and that states have numerous options to reform the redistricting process to curb extreme partisan gerrymanders.

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