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Update on Emily’s List decision and other campaign finance matters

KW: The Green Party believes that one way to free our government from corporate control, is to tighten up campaign finance laws, for example not taking money from corporations or taking soft money from PACS. If I understand it, the position of some Libertarians is that any person or entity should be able to give as much money as they want, without such strict government oversight, as a matter of free speech.

Here is an article about campaign finance questions like this being considered in US courts.

from Ballot Access News
Federal Government Won’t Appeal Emily’s List Campaign Finance Decision

Richard Winger, ballot access expert. December 17th, 2009.

On September 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, had struck down federal campaign rules that tell non-profit groups that they cannot receive more than $5,000 from an individual, if the money is to be used for that non-profit’s own ad, commenting on a candidate for federal office. The case was Emily’s List v Federal Election Commission.

On December 17, the Solicitor General of the United States said that he will not appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thanks to ElectionLawBlog for this news.

The government hopes to vitiate the Emily’s List precedent, by winning a very similar lawsuit called Speechnow.org v FEC. That case has an en banc hearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, on January 27, 2010. Speechnow.org is a group that wants to make independent expenditures on behalf of candidates for federal office who uphold free speech. As in the case of Emily’s List, Speechnow.org wants to raise unlimited funds from individuals to help pay for its ads. The U.S. District Court had ruled against Speechnow.org on July 1, 2008. The case is going directly from U.S. District Court to the entire panel of full-time judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals. If the FEC wins in the U.S. Court of Appeals en banc, that precedent will overshadow the Emily’s List precedent, because the Emily’s List precedent is an ordinary appellate decision from a normal 3-judge panel.

By the time all the judges of the D.C. circuit hear Speechnow.org on January 27, chances are that the U.S. Supreme Court will have put out a decision in yet another campaign finance case, called Citizens United v FEC.

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