Legal Center Files Brief Defending Contribution Limits in 7th Circuit Over Opposition of Illinois Liberty PAC


Yesterday, the Campaign Legal Center filed an amici curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of the Legal Center, Chicago Appleseed and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, defending Illinois’ state contribution limits over the objections of Illinois Liberty PAC, the appellant in the case.  The Legal Center submitted the brief last week with the assistance of local counsel David R. Melton and Thomas Rosenwein, and yesterday the Court granted the motion to file.

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.

“This is an appeal from the denial of a preliminary injunction and is of dubious merit on a number of levels.  First, Illinois Liberty PAC is very unlikely to prevail on the merits of its case. Second, Liberty PAC cannot escape the unavoidable truth that any urgency to this request for emergency injunctive relief was created the group’s own delay in challenging the law,” said Paul S. Ryan, Legal Center Senior Counsel.  “The state level caps being challenged are all equal to or higherthan federal contribution limits that have been upheld by the Supreme Court, to say nothing of the fact that the High Court has upheld significantly lower limits for states and municipalities.  We are also talking about a state that has a very significant interest in preventing corruption, having seen four governors go to jail on corruption charges since the 1970s, including most recently Rod Blagojevich and his predecessor George Ryan.”

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

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

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