On January 14, 2002, the Center for Individual Freedom, joined by the James Madison Center for Free Speech, filed an amicus brief in support of the Lincoln Club of Orange Countys request for rehearing in its case against the City of Irvine, California. The case, before a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, challenges the citys campaign finance law on the grounds that it violates the rights of freedom of speech and free association.
The 1995 ordinance was passed by the City of Irvine in order to limit contributions to a candidate to $320 per two-year election cycle. The law also restricts any person or committee that makes independent expenditures for or against a candidate (such as running an ad or handing out fliers) from collecting more than $320 in contributions from any one person during the two-year time period.
The Lincoln Club of Orange County is a conservative group that that has annual membership dues of $2,000, thereby, according to the city, exceeding the citys $320 "contribution" limit and prohibiting the club from making any expenditure on behalf of candidates it supports.
The appeals court panel initially ruled in favor of the Lincoln Club. However, the plaintiffs are seeking a rehearing in light of the court distinguishing this case as involving not independent expenditures themselves, but rather, contributions to an independent expenditure committee.
The Center supports the Lincoln Clubs challenge to the courts ruling that "It seems highly unlikely that a candidate for local office would not notice the identities of the individual contributors (i.e. The Lincoln Clubs dues-paying members) who made contributions to the independent expenditure committee that independently spent money on the candidates behalf. This situation creates, at the very least, the possibility of an appearance of improper political influence."
The Center, commenting on the free speech and freedom of association implications of the courts ruling, wrote, "The result, as a practical matter, is the complete destruction of any meaningful right of private persons to associate for the purposes of engaging in joint political speech in the campaign context. Drastically restricting private individuals from associating for more effective advocacy is contrary to law and would deal a crushing blow to political speech in the Ninth Circuit and throughout the nation."
To read the brief, please click here.January 14, 2002
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