Hat tip: James Bopp Jr.Federal Court Extends Citizens United; Enjoins San Diego Law Banning Corporate Contributions to Independent Expenditure Committees
A federal district court today extended the principle of the recent Supreme Court case, Citizens United, to enjoin a law barring corporations from making contributions to independent expenditure committees. The court had earlier ruled that contributions to IE PACs may be unlimited.
Citizens United said that corporations have a First Amendment right to make independent expenditures. Today’s order uses that decision to allow corporations and other organizations to pool their resources with other people’s to make independent expenditures. Individuals and organizations are now free to contribute unlimited amounts for independent expenditures in San Diego, thereby exercising their First Amendment rights to the fullest.
James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said, “Today’s ruling reaffirms what the Supreme Court said in Citizens United: When it comes to political speech, the government must treat all speakers the same. It cannot discriminate based on the identity of the speaker, or because it doesn’t like a speaker, or doesn’t like the speaker’s message.” Mr. Bopp added that he believes this is the first decision to extend Citizens United’s ruling to allow corporations to contribute to independent expenditure committees.
The court had issued an order on February 16 partially granting the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. That order enjoined enforcement of laws that prevented (1) candidates from spending their own money more than a year in advance of the election; (2) political parties from contributing to their candidates; and (3) committees from using contributions greater than $500 for their independent expenditures. It was unclear to the parties, however, whether the Court also meant to enjoin the law that prevented corporations from contributing to independent expenditure committees. The court issued this order today to make its position clear.
The case is Thalheimer v. San Diego, No. 09-CV-2862 (S.D. Cal.).
James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is an attorney with Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom and General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech. He is also a former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.