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Home / Opinions / Courts / 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals / Constitutional: Political Speech – Election Laws – Corporate Contributions

Constitutional: Political Speech – Election Laws – Corporate Contributions

Where three Minnesota corporations sought to enjoin state election laws on independent expenditures and corporate contributions to candidates and political parties, the provisions on corporate independent expenditures are similar in purpose and effect to the disclosure laws that the Supreme Court upheld in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the corporations were unlikely to prevail on the issue of whether the state functionally retained a ban on corporate independent expenditures, or on the claim of improper tailoring, so the district court did not err in failing to grant a preliminary injunction, and because Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont remains controlling precedent, the court finds that the corporations were also unlikely to prevail on their challenge to Minnesota’s ban on direct corporate contributions.

Corporate speech chilled

Opinion concurring in part; dissenting in part by Riley, J.: “Because I believe Minnesota’s independent expenditure law impermissibly burdens political speech, I respectfully dissent from Part II.B. of the majority opinion….

“Under Minnesota’s scheme, a corporation is compelled to decide whether exercising its constitutional right is worth the time and expense of entering a long-term or even perpetual morass of regulatory red tape. Some corporations will decide the exercise is simply not worth the trouble. Because the burdens associated with Minnesota’s independent expenditure law chill corporate political speech, I would subject the challenged provisions to strict scrutiny analysis.

It is unlikely Minnesota would be able to prove aspects of the law, particularly the ongoing reporting requirements, are the least restrictive means of accomplishing a compelling interest.”

Judgment is affirmed.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Inc., et al. v. Swanson, et al. (MLW No. 62192/Case No. 10-3126 – 30 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Melloy, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Frank, J. (James Bopp Jr., Terre Haute, Indiana, argued for appellants; Richard E. Coleson, Joseph E. LaRue, Kaylan L. Phillips and James R. Magnuson appeared on the brief) (Alan Gilbert, St. Paul, Minnesota, argued for appellees; Daniel P. Rogan Sr. Jean Burdorf, Beth Stack, Alan Gilbert, John S. Garry and Kristyn Anderson appeared on the briefs).

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