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    Montana Donors And Political Parties Appeal To U.S. Supreme Court For Review Of Unconstitutionally Low Candidate Contribution Limits - By James Bopp, Jr.

    Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2018

    The Bopp Law Firm, PC
    National Building
    1 South 6th Street
    Terre Haute, IN 47807-3510

    Tuesday, July 31, 2018

    Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
    Phone 812-232-2434; Fax 812-235-3685; jboppjr@aol.com

    Montana Donors and Political Parties Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court For

    Review Of Unconstitutionally Low Candidate Contribution Limits

    Today, two Montana residents and two Republican county parties urged the United States Supreme Court to review Montana’s unconstitutionally low candidate contribution limits. The limits, adopted in 1994, are very low, with a $180 cap on individual contributions and a $900 maximum from all political parties in aggregate to any one legislative candidate. Because they are so low, the limits make it very hard for newcomers to run for office and for candidates to reach voters with their message. 

    In 2011, Doug Lair, several other donors and the Lake and Beaverhead County Republican Parties challenged the limits in Lair v. Mangan. The trial court twice found the limits unconstitutional, but the Ninth Circuit disagreed.

    The U.S. Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC, held that contribution limits must be justified by evidence of quid pro quo corruption. Quid pro quo corruption is defined as 1) an unambiguous arrangement 2) for the direct exchange of something of value 3) for a public official’s improper promise 4) that is contrary to his or her obligations 5) in an effort to control an official act. But the Ninth Circuit said that Montana does not need to prove quid pro quo corruption and they accepted Montana’s evidence of attempts to influence public officials as enough—evidence the trial court rejected. This conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, which expressly rejected “influence” as a justification for contribution limits in Citizens United and McCutcheon.

    The Ninth Circuit also refused to follow the United States Supreme Court decision in Randall v. Sorrell, which struck down Vermont’s low contribution limits, which the trial court also applied to find the Montana’s limits unconstitutionally low.

    The Petition for Certiorari argues that the Ninth Circuit’s refusal to apply Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Randall was not only erroneous but also conflicts with numerous decisions of other federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. And the Ninth Circuit also rejected Lair’s request that the appellate court hear the case en banc, but five Ninth Circuit judges dissented because the Ninth Circuit’s decision ignores these key Supreme Court precedents.

    “Yet again, the Ninth Circuit is on the wrong side of the law, ignoring and misapplying key U.S. Supreme Court decisions, to uphold these contribution limits,” said James Bopp, Jr., lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “These limits are so low that candidates cannot raise enough money to adequately reach voters and get their message out, making them bit players in their own elections. And the aggregate limits have reduced political party speech in Montana to a whisper. All of this damage is done without any evidence of quid pro quo corruption at these levels to justify them. The High Court should review this case to restore Free Speech rights to donors, candidates, and political parties.”

     A copy of the Lair Petition for Certiorari can be found here.

    James Bopp, Jr. of The Bopp Law Firm, PC of Terre Haute, IN has a national law practice defending the constitutional rights of Americans.


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