Federal Court Rejects Challenge To Illinois Contribution Limits


Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a motion for preliminary injunction in a constitutional challenge to Illinois contribution limits inIllinois Liberty PAC (ILP) v. Madigan.  Specifically, ILP challenged the contribution limits of $50,000 per election from PACs to a candidate for state office, $5,000 per election cycle from individuals to a candidate for state office, and $10,000 per election cycle from an individual to a PAC.  The Campaign Legal Center, with the assistance of local counsel David R. Melton and Thomas Rosenwein, filed a briefamici curiae in support of the state law limits on behalf of itself, together with Chicago Appleseed and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

In analyzing whether to grant plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, a determination based largely on plaintiffs’ likelihood of eventual success on the merits of their arguments, the district court noted the long line of Supreme Court and lower court cases upholding contribution limits and concluded that ILP’s arguments “cannot be reconciled with prevailing campaign finance precedents.”  The district court concluded “it is highly likely” that the state law limits will “survive First Amendment scrutiny.”

“The district court recognized that Illinois’ contribution limits are a constitutionally permissible means of preventing corruption and correctly rejected Illinois Liberty PAC’s call to suspend the limits in the weeks leading up to the 2012 elections,”said Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel.  “In a state where the last two governors have gone to jail for corruption, including one governor whose unlimited pursuit of campaign contributions was at the heart of the scandal, the court explicitly recognized that suspending the state’s contribution limits would reopen the door to corruption and do irreparable harm to Illinois and its citizens. This is an example of where the Legal Center can play a vital role in litigation, making clear that there is a long line of court precedent supporting the constitutionality of contribution limits.”

To read the court’s memorandum opinion and order, click here. 

To read the brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center, click here.