Challenge to Florida’s Political Disclosure Laws Draws Legal Center Brief in 11th Circuit


Today, the Campaign Legal Center filed an amicus brief to support Florida’s “electioneering communications” disclosure law with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in National Organization for Marriage (NOM) v. Browning.  The case is the latest in a string of challenges to disclosure laws across the country.

Although the Supreme Court has repeatedly and unequivocally endorsed the constitutionality of political transparency – as recently as its 2010 decision inCitizens United – disclosure laws at the federal and state level are under unprecedented attack, “said Tara Malloy Campaign Legal Center Associate Legal Counsel.  “In fact, NOM itself has challenged the disclosure laws of Maine, New York and Rhode Island in addition to this Florida-based suit.” 

The Florida statute under challenge requires groups to register and report if they make over $5,000 of electioneering communications in a calendar year.  In August 8, 2011, a Florida district court upheld the law, and NOM appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit.

“Interestingly this organization, and others like it, faces no restrictions as to how it raises and spends money for ‘electioneering communications’ to influence Florida election outcomes, but the group also wants to do it anonymously.  The group and its lawyers are mistakenly trying to equate freedom of speech with what amounts to freedom to run anonymous attack ads against candidates,” added Malloy.  “Fortunately this challenge is built largely on smoke and mirrors and asks the Court of Appeals in essence to overrule a number of recent 8-1 Supreme Court decisions affirming the constitutionality of disclosure.”

In the NOM v. Browning case, NOM argues that the state definition of “electioneering communication” is vague because it includes the “appeal to vote” test devised by the Supreme Court in its 2007 decision in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC.  NOM also claims that Florida’s disclosure requirements are so onerous as to warrant strict scrutiny review, although Citizens United held that the federal electioneering communications disclosure law was constitutional under “exacting scrutiny.” 

To read the brief, click here.