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Challenge to Louisiana Campaign Finance Laws

Center asks Louisiana federal district court to strike down the state’s campaign finance laws as an unconstitutional restriction on the rights of free speech and association.

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September 30, 2004

Contact: Jeffrey Mazzella


CFIF Challenges Louisiana Campaign Finance Laws

Group Charges State’s Expenditure Restrictions and Disclosure Requirements Squash First Amendment Rights

The Center for Individual Freedom this week asked a federal district court in Louisiana to strike down the state’s campaign finance laws as an unconstitutional restriction on the rights of free speech and free association.

At issue is the state’s requirement that the Center, and other speakers, be forced to file onerous and intrusive reports anytime it spends more than $500 on activities enforcement authorities subjectively believe "support, oppose, or otherwise influence" an election. The reports must include the full name and address of all people contributing to the Center in any amount for any purpose at any time during the reporting period, not to mention the full financial status of the organization.

"Such onerous reporting requirements fly in the face of the free speech and association rights guaranteed by the First Amendment," said Jeffrey Mazzella, the Center’s Executive Director. "Many of our supporters wish to remain private, and, in keeping with our staunch commitment to individual freedom, the Center will not betray their constitutional right to remain anonymous. Rather, we are demanding relief from Louisiana’s restrictions which strike a blow at the heart of the First Amendment."

Last month, the Center filed the lawsuit and sought an emergency injunction against enforcement of Louisiana’s unconstitutional campaign finance laws. Those actions were prompted after the Center realized it could not run radio and/or television advertisements on matters of public importance in Louisiana, including issues of criminal law enforcement and sentencing, legal reform and judicial decision-making, before the September 18 primary election for State Supreme Court. Both the federal district court in Shreveport and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled against emergency relief, thus the Center could not speak directly to Louisianans about such issues without reporting all of the organization’s activities and contributors to the state.

"We were very upset with the district and appellate courts’ rulings not to grant emergency relief," said Mazzella. "The muzzling effect of those rulings and the state enforcement authority’s overbroad interpretation of Louisiana’s campaign finance statutes have prevented us from speaking on issues of public importance at the time it was most important to do so — in the days leading up to the election. This week’s request for permanent relief is an effort to restore not only our free speech and free association rights, but the First Amendment rights of all Americans who want to speak on public issues in Louisiana in the future," Mazzella concluded.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division. The Center has retained First Amendment experts Jan Baran and Thomas Kirby of Wiley, Rein & Fielding to represent the organization.

The Center for Individual Freedom ( is a non-partisan, non-profit Constitutional advocacy group that fights to protect individual freedom and individual rights in the legal, legislative and educational arenas.



  • To download a copy of the Center’s Complaint, click here.

  • To download a copy of the Center’s brief asking for a temporary restraining order, click here.

  • To download a copy of the Center’s brief asking for permanent relief, click here.

[Posted September 30, 2004]