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This just in… Personal PAC wins campaign finance suit

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012

* 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - Ace Matson - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:03 pm:

    The state laws are not ‘gone’. They are still in the statute books. Just unenforcible now unless a higher court reverses.


  2. - matty - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:04 pm:

    great, even more money


  3. - TwoFeetThick - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:05 pm:

    From the opinion, quoting Citizens United: “independent expenditures… do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

    Of course not, don’t be silly. Great decision the Roberts Court gave us. That roaring sound is either the floodgates being opened or the country being flushed down the toilet (or maybe both).


  4. - dave - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:08 pm:

    Better write those big checks today before the State appeals.


  5. - Wrong - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:28 pm:

    Actually, you guys are mistaken. This law only applies to independent expenditure committees - i.e. PersonalPAC, Stand for Children, Democratic Majority, etc.

    Candidate PACs, State Party PACS, and perhaps, Labor PACs, are still limited in contributions they can accept.


  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:32 pm:

    Wrong is right.


  7. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    The Roberts court is awful.

    That state rep busted by the FBI should use Citizens United to challenge his indictment for taking a bribe to write a letter.

    It’s all free speech. If the government lacks authority to regulate purchased speech, why shouldn’t someone be able to purchase the speech of a legislator?


  8. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:36 pm:

    John Roberts is a [redacted] moron, if he thinks that all the money being dumped into politics, for example the GOP primary, is “independent” expenditures.

    The funds are clearly coordinating with the campaigns. The media doesn’t even pretend there’s a distinction.


  9. - D.P. Gumby - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 3:59 pm:

    Another example of the evil brought by Citizen’s United. May it soon be overturned by reality.


  10. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 4:02 pm:

    The Courts have gone absolutely mad with these campaign finance rulings. The suggestion that this stuff has anything to do with free speech is absolute ignorance. I can only hope one day somebody comes to grips with this nonsense and the Supreme Court ruling that started all of this will be overturned, if for no other reason than it is absurd.


  11. - 1776 - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 4:45 pm:

    Lots of folks hate the Constitution today. I applaud the freedoms articulated by our founders including speech, religion, and the right to bear arms.


  12. - Greg Blankenship - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 5:26 pm:

    A decent civil rights victory. Maybe there is hope for the idea that Illinoisans will develop the capacity for self government. Maybe someday the little people will have rights, too.


  13. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 5:40 pm:

    GMAB, 1776, about people who oppose Citizens United hating the Constitution.

    The Framers of the Constitution did not think money was speech or that incorporated groups had First Amendment rights. If they did think so, they would have said so.

    No, these things were determined by judicial activists at the Supreme Court over the years. We can’t blame the Framers or the Constitution itself for this.


  14. - SangamoGOP - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 5:46 pm:

    This is a solid decision just as the famous Citizens United decision. I may not agree with PersonalPAC or its chosen candidates, but I fully support their right to scream their support from the highest rafters and the smallest radio stations.


  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 12 @ 8:23 pm:

    spam at 4:45


  16. - The Framers - Wednesday, Mar 14, 12 @ 8:15 am:

    ==The Framers of the Constitution did not think money was speech==
    Money isn’t abortion, either. But a ban on spending money for abortions would surely be unconstitutional. The question was never whether money IS speech. The question was whether banning spending money ON speech was a limit on speech.

    ==or that incorporated groups had First Amendment rights.==
    The Framers absolutely believed that you don’t lose your speech rights by virtue of association with others. They granted you the freedom to do both, and to do both together if you so choose.

    There’s no distinguishing characteristic of incorporated associations to treat them any differently than unincorporated associations.


  17. - Lawsuit Funding - Wednesday, Mar 14, 12 @ 9:21 am:

    I agree with greg, maybe there is hope.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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