Lair v. Bullock: Opinion For the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Court Level
Ninth Circuit

The panel reversed the district court’s judgment, entered following a non-jury trial, and remanded in an action challenging, under the First Amendment, Montana’s dollar limits on contributions to political candidates. The panel held that the district court applied the wrong legal standard prior to enjoining permanently the enforcement of Montana’s restrictions on campaign contributions by individuals, political action committees, and political parties. The panel held that the district court applied neither the new formulation of what constitutes an important state interest set forth in Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), nor the correct formulation, set forth in Mont. Right to Life Ass’n v. Eddleman, 343 F.3d 1085 (9th Cir. 2003), of whether the state’s contribution limits are “closely drawn” to the state’s goal of preventing quid pro quo corruption or its appearance. The panel remanded in order to allow Montana’s political contribution limits to be tested under the new and more restrictive standard of Citizens United, and the correct “closely drawn” test set forth in Eddleman.