Federal judge puts court-related campaign limits on hold


* Background is here if you need it. Federal District Court for the Northeastern District, Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. presiding

The plaintiffs challenge two recently enacted provisions of the Illinois Election Code as violative of their First Amendment rights to free speech. Both provisions regulate campaign financing during state judicial elections. The first prohibits judicial candidate committees from receiving any contributions from an out-of-state person. The second caps the amount that any independent expenditure committee established to support or oppose a judicial candidate can receive from any single source during an election cycle at $500,000. The plaintiffs seek to preliminarily enjoin the defendants from enforcing these two provisions during the upcoming November 8, 2022, election, a permanent injunction to the same effect for future election cycles, and a declaratory judgment that these two provisions are unconstitutional. Defendant Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to state a claim and opposed the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction is granted, and the motion to dismiss is denied because the plaintiffs, having shown they have some likelihood of success on the merits, necessarily have also demonstrated that they have stated a plausible claim for relief. […]

To succeed on the merits, the plaintiffs first need to show that Illinois has burdened their speech. They have made such a showing, and the defendants do not dispute it. […]

Whatever its intent, the ban on out-of-state contributions will likely be more effective in preserving the status quo of the state’s judiciary than in enhancing its appearance of integrity. Accordingly, the Court concludes that plaintiff Chancey has shown “some likelihood” that he will prevail on the merits of his constitutional claim. […]

In sum, the State has not sufficiently explained how the $500,000 limit on [Independent Expenditure Committee] contributions accomplishes anything other than imposing some burden on plaintiffs’ exercise of their speech and associational rights. Admittedly, given the myriad ways a well-heeled donor can work around the IEC restrictions, the burden is not great. But even if that burden is minimal, “something … outweighs nothing every time.” […]

Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that Illinois is, pending further order of this Court, enjoined from enforcing subsections 10 ILCS 5/9- 8.5(b-5)(1)(B) and 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(b-5)(1.2).

* Ironically enough, the lawsuit was filed by the Liberty Justice Center, which has close ties to the Illinois Policy Institute.

Except, the reality is the Republicans had an advantage because Ken Griffin contributed $6.25 million to Citizens for Judicial Fairness, an independent expenditure committee, before the bill was signed into law.

But, for now at least, contributions to IE committees are no longer capped. And that means Gov. Pritzker and others can go all-in if they choose.

CF,Region: Statewide,Politics,CF 2

via Capitol Fax.com – Your Illinois News Radar http://capitolfax.com

October 17, 2022 at 10:23AM

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