* 3:37 pm - US District Judge Marvin Aspen has just ruled that parts of two Illinois campaign finance statutes are unconstitutional and has permanently enjoined their enforcement. Read the opinion here.
The pro-choice Personal PAC had sued because Illinois law prohibited it from setting up a separate political action committee to conduct independent expenditures. State law limits PACs to one fund each. The group also objected to the contribution caps to political action committees that are set up to run independent expenditures.
The court agreed based on the infamous Citizens United case and the lesser known Wisconsin Right to Life ruling (which had pretty much exactly the same circumstances as this Personal PAC suit) and those two state laws are now gone.
* From the opinion…
This order enjoins enforcement of only the first sentences of 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(d) and 10 ILCS 5/9-2(d) as applied to independent-expenditure-only PACs. Those sections may continue to be enforced outside of the specific applications enjoined and all other provisions of the Election Code continue to apply as written. This narrow ruling, among other things, allows for enforcement of the first sentence of § 5/9-2 to bar individuals and groups from creating more than one PAC that makes coordinated expenditures; it also allows for full enforcement of the reporting requirements set forth in § 5/9-8.6©.
Defendants additionally assert that if we enjoin the contribution limits in § 5/9-8.5(d), and allow Personal PAC to accept unlimited contributions after converting to a independent- expenditure only PAC, we could avoid reaching the constitutionality of the one-PAC limit in § 5/9-2(d). We disagree that this solution would result in a narrow ruling that still vindicates Personal PAC’s constitutional rights as it would prevent Personal PAC from managing two PACs, one for direct contributions and one for independent expenditures. Such a result is not warranted.
* 4:33 pm - From Personal PAC…
Earlier today, United States District Court Judge Marvin Aspen issued a ruling striking down two provisions in Illinois’s campaign finance law on the ground that both are clear violations of the First Amendment. The first challenged provision limited contributions to political action committees, including placing a $10,000 limit on contributions by individuals. The second provision prevented any person from establishing or maintaining more than one political action committee. Judge Aspen held that both provisions are flatly unconstitutional following the United States Supreme Court’s landmark campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. FEC and the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision striking down a similar law in Wisconsin Right to Life State Political Action Committee v. Barland.
The Court granted Personal PAC’s request for a permanent injunction against enforcement of the provisions as applied to PACs that only raise and spend money independently of public officials, candidates, or political parties. This decision will enable Personal PAC and its donors to fully participate in the Illinois election contests in 2012.
Terry Cosgrove, President and CEO of Personal PAC, stated, “Personal PAC sought to bring Illinois campaign finance law into compliance with what the First Amendment supports. We are thrilled that the Court ruled quickly and in our favor, which will allow us to raise the necessary funds to effectively advocate for the rights of women and girls in Illinois.”