DC Circuit upholds ban on foreign campaign contributions

[JURIST] A three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Monday upheld a law banning campaign finance contributions from foreigners. Two Canadian citizens filed suit against the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) [official website], arguing that they should be permitted to contribute to US political candidates and committees. Though the plaintiffs have visas to legally live and work in the US, the panel unanimously ruled [WP report] that foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in democratic elections in the US. The Canadian citizens plan on appealing to the US Supreme Court [official website].

Campaign finance regulation has been in a state of flux since Citizens United was decided [JURIST report] in January of last year, easing restrictions on political campaign spending by corporations. In June, the US Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett [Cornell LII backgrounder] that an Arizona campaign finance regulation that provided publicly financed candidates with additional government subsidies, which are triggered by independent expenditure groups' speech against such candidates or by the candidates' privately financed opponents, violates the First Amendment [text]. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website] upheld [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] a Minnesota campaign financing law prohibiting direct contributions to candidates and affiliated entities in May. In April, a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website] dismissed two challenges [JURIST report] to campaign financing schemes for Wisconsin Supreme Court elections. In June 2010, the US Senate [official website] failed to pass campaign finance reform legislation [S 3628 materials] that would prohibit corporations receiving federal contracts worth more than $7 million from spending money on "electioneering communications" and would also prohibit foreign-controlled domestic corporations from financing campaigns [JURIST report].

 

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