Illinois’ Contribution Limits Upheld by 7th Circuit Court of Appeals


Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit refused to enjoin Illinois’ state contribution limits and affirmed a recent district court decision denying suchan injunction in Illinois Liberty PAC (ILP) v. Madigan. The Legal Center, Chicago Appleseed and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform filed an amici curiaebrief defending the state’s contribution limits with the assistance of local counsel David R. Melton and Thomas Rosenwein.

Illinois Liberty PAC challenges the state’s $50,000 limit on PAC contributions to candidates, its $5,000 limit on contributions from individuals to candidates, and its $10,000 limit on contributions from individuals to a PAC, claiming these limits violate their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. Under federal law, PACs may contribute only $5,000 to candidates, a mere tenth of the challenged Illinois cap. And while Illinois law permits individuals to contribute up to $5,000 to candidates and $10,000 to PACs, the Supreme Court has upheld much lower state contribution limits ranging from $275 to $1,075.

“The Court’s order today makes clear the flimsiness of Illinois Liberty PAC’s challenge to Illinois’ contribution limits—limits that are equal to, and in some instances far greater than, federal and state law limits that have been upheld by the Supreme Court,” said Paul S. Ryan, Legal Center Senior Counsel. “The Supreme Court has long held that contribution limits serve the government’s compelling interest in preventing corruption. Recent scandals and jail sentences for sitting Governors have shown that Illinois has a very compelling interest indeed in preventing corruption.” 

On October 5, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied Illinois Liberty PAC’s motion for preliminary injunction.  The Legal Center previously filed a brief in the case in the district court.

To read the Court of Appeals’ order, click here.

To read the Campaign Legal Center’s brief, click here.

To read the U.S. District Court’s memorandum opinion and order, click here.