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Seventh Circuit allows cap on campaign contributions for upcoming election

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] ruled Wednesday that a campaign finance law limiting political contributions can remain in effect until at least the November 6 elections. In particular, the three-judge panel refused to grant [Reuters report] a request by the Illinois Liberty Political Action Committee (ILPAC) [advocacy website] for a temporary injunction to block Public Act 096-0832 [text, PDF], or "[a]n act concerning elections." The court reasoned that ILPAC did not have a likely chance of success with regard to their claims that the state law violated free speech under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause [Cornell LII backgrounders] under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution [text]. The case will now be heard on remand in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website], which is where ILPAC's injunction attempt was originally quashed [opinion, PDF] only three weeks ago. Public Act 096-0832 was passed in December 2009 and places a $5,000 limit on political contributions from individuals, a $10,000 limit on unions and corporations and a $50,000 limit on political action committees.

Campaign finance [JURIST news archive] has received significant national attention over the past year, especially in Illinois. In September the Seventh Circuit upheld [JURIST report] a state law requiring all organizations to disclose their funding sources, including groups that do not focus on elections. In March a judge for the Northern District struck down [JURIST report] two recently enacted parts of the Illinois Election Code [text] also designed to cap campaign contributions. Illinois Election Code revisions and campaign contribution restrictions were passed in 2009 as part of reform efforts following the indictment of former governor Rod Blagojevich [personal website; JURIST news archive], who was arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008 on corruption charges that included the allegation that he conspired to sell the Senate seat left vacant by US President Barack Obama.

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