Tenth Circuit rules that New Mexico’s limits on contributions to independent groups violate First Amendment

Last week, in Republican Party of New Mexico v. King (Dec. 18, 2013), the Tenth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of a New Mexico statute (NMSA 1978, § 1-19-34.7(A)(1)) which prevents individuals from making contributions to political committees in excess of $5,000.

The opinion, written by Judge Timothy Tymkovich, states that under the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the only constitutional basis for campaign finance restrictions is to prevent actual or apparent quid pro quo corruption. Citizens United also held that there was no anti-corruption interest in limiting independent expenditures by groups (such as political action committees) that do not coordinate with any candidate.

The Tenth Circuit joined several other circuits which have held that if there is no anti-corruption interest in limiting expenditures by independent political action committees, then there can be no such interest in limiting individual contributions to such groups.

I am by no means a campaign finance law junkie, but I’m inclined to favor more speech rather than less speech, so this seems like a good decision. But I know that lots of people are critical of Citizens United, and believe that the government should have a freer hand to limit all manner of campaign expenditures. If you have a strong opinion on this issue, whether you favor or oppose Citizens United, please feel free to leave a comment.

Also, a Merry Christmas to all of my readers!

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