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Court Upholds Illinois Campaign Finance Law

By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 25, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An Illinois campaign finance law limiting contributions to political campaign can remain in force through the November 6 election, Reuters reports.

The challenged provisions were enacted in 2009 as part of the Illinois Disclosure and Regulation of Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Act, which recognizes three classes of political contributors: individuals, political committees and corporations, labor unions, or other associations. The Illinois campaign law imposes a $5,000 limit on contributions from individuals, a $10,000 limit on unions and corporations, and a $50,000 limit on political action committees.

(There are also several different types of political committees under the law, including candidate political committees, political party committees, PACs, and independent expenditure committees.)

The Illinois Liberty Political Action Committee, a self-described "free enterprise," sued Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to challenge those limits, alleging that certain contribution caps imposed by the Act violated the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman denied the PAC's motion for a preliminary injunction against the campaign caps. Wednesday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals similarly denied Illinois Liberty PAC's motion.

In this week's panel ruling, Judges William Bauer, Richard Posner, and Claire Williams noted that the PAC had not demonstrated that it was likely to succeed on the merits of the contribution limit challenge, Reuters reports.

While the PAC could still prevail in its complaint before the district court, it is unlikely to see the campaign contribution limits reversed before the general election in November.

Since the Seventh Circuit declined to enjoin the law, the only remaining pre-election recourse for the PAC would be a Supreme Court petition. The odds of Supreme Court action, however, are slim. On Tuesday, the Court refused to block a Montana law limiting campaign contributions to candidates for statewide office, reports The Associated Press.

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