The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected a challenge to a federal ban on foreign citizens contributing to state and local elections in the US.
In 2012 two men, Jose Susumo Azano Mastura and Ravneet Singh, attempted to garner influence with the mayor of San Diego, California, by soliciting contributions to their electoral campaigns. Federal law prohibits foreign nationals from contributing to any elections in the US unless they are a permanent resident, which neither Mastura nor Singh was at the time of the elections. The two men were convicted by a federal district court of a litany of election-related offenses in 2017, and they appealed.
The men argued that the controlling precedent, Bluman v. FEC, a single-line summary affirmance issued by the Supreme Court in 2012 in a similar case, applied only to federal elections and that Congress overstepped their legislative authority when they prohibited the conduct in state and local elections. In a unanimous decision, the appellate court rejected Mastura and Singh’s argument, saying that “Congress was within its power when it acted to protect the country’s political processes after recognizing the susceptibility of the elections process to foreign interference.”