Lair v. Motl Amici Brief

July 1, 2014

In an amici brief authored by the Campaign Legal Center, amici Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Justice at Stake and the Campaign Legal Center argue that Montana’s federal district court wrongly struck down the states longstanding direct contribution limits to candidates. Importantly, the brief explains that while Montana’s limitation on contributions is among the lowest in the country, this is “unsurprising in light of the fact that Montana is one of the least expensive states in the nation in which to mount a political campaign.” Furthermore, the limitations are closely drawn, within the acceptable range needed to be constitutional, and address important interests in the state.

The limitations are closely drawn because (1) the plaintiffs did not show that the law causes their campaigns to be ineffective, (2) the law allows political parties to contribute five to 36 times more money than individuals and political committees, which preserves a “full and robust exchange of views,” (3) the law is considerably less stringent in terms of volunteer services than a similar law in Vermont that a federal court struck down, and (4) the law adjusts the contribution limits for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index, “a well-recognized mechanism for adjusting inflation.” Finally, while preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption is an important state interest furthered by Montana’s contribution law, the limitations also protect the Due Process guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because they “apply not only to candidates for executive and legislative offices, but also to candidates for the judiciary.” In states that do not have limits on contributions to judicial election candidates, fundraising and spending in these elections is skyrocketing.

In summary, Montana’s law comports with a long line of cases upholding the constitutionality of contribution limits.

READ: Lair v. Motl Amici Brief

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