First Amendment

Lawsuits Challenge Three Key Campaign Finance Bans


Although many challenges have arisen in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark decision regarding campaign finance bans, three key cases have captured the national attention of campaign-finance reformers and their opponents.

U.S. v. Danielczyk—considered the most significant challenge to regulating big money in federal elections—is now being briefed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, the National Law Journal reports. At issue is a district court ruling striking down a federal ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates.

Two other cases—one already at the Supreme Court—challenge restrictions on foreign campaign contributions and contributions by individuals with federal contracts.

All of the suits are outgrowths of Citizen United, where the Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from placing limits on corporate and union spending for political purposes. And, while not “directly on point in terms of the law,” Tara Malloy of the Campaign Legal Center told the National Law Journal, “its reasoning is certainly being used in new areas of campaign-finance law.”

Danielczyk is the challenge most obviously focused on federal restrictions, but if any of these cases were to go to the Supreme Court, the basic principle would very much be at issue,” said Malloy, whose organization has filed an amicus brief supporting the government in the case.

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