Brief Filed To Preserve Our Democracy Against Latest Bopp Legal Challenge


Republican Party of Louisiana Seeks To End Necessary Federal Contribution Limits for Political Parties

WASHINGTON – The Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Republican Party of Louisiana v. FEC, a case attempting to further undermine campaign contribution limits.

Under one of the key provisions enacted as part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold law and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, state and local parties have limits on how much they can raise for federal election activities. With the help of Citizens United lawyer Jim Bopp, the plaintiffs – the Republican Party of Louisiana and two of its local committees – argue that the First Amendment forbids Congress from limiting the sources and amounts of these contributions.

“These contribution limits are a modest and necessary check,” said Tara Malloy, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center. “Political parties are inherently tied to candidates and serve as ready conduits for corruption. When parties raise money to engage in federal election activities, such as get-out-the-vote efforts in their own states that support a presidential candidate, it’s difficult to make the case that these state party activities do not impact the federal candidates they benefit and cannot be subject to federal restrictions.”

In our friend-of-the-court brief, we argue that large contributions to political parties to fund federal election activity—even insofar as that activity is “independent” of federal candidates—give rise to the reality and appearance of corruption and must be subject to contribution limits to protect our democracy.

“There is a long and demonstrated history of political party donors exploiting close ties to obtain political favors,” said Megan P. McAllen, associate counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. “If these restrictions are struck down, we could see political parties shift their focus from engaging average voters to instead engaging a handful of billionaires. It doesn’t improve the parties, and it doesn’t improve democracy.”

Lawyers for the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and the law firm WilmerHale are part of the legal team, led by Scott L. Nelson of Public Citizen Litigation Group, representing the amici curiae on today’s filing.