CLC Files Amici Brief in Ninth Circuit Case Challenging Limits on Contributions to PACs


The Campaign Legal Center, joined by the Center for Governmental Studies and Common Cause, filed a brief amici curiae last week 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 acontribution limit that should be subject 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.