Sixteen states led by Washington State filed an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court Wednesday urging the Court to take a case arguing that the unlimited amount of funds that can be donated against or in support of political candidates through Super PACs is a violation of the First Amendment. The case Lieu v. Federal Elections Commission was appealed by the plaintiffs who are petitioning for certiorari after being dismissed by the DC District Court.
The states filed the brief because they have an “interest in ensuring that State and local elections remain free of actual or apparent corruption and in safeguarding public confidence in elected officials.” Further, they argue that the 2010 decision of the DC District Court in SpeechNow, which has been interpreted to allow Super PACS and has been applied in many state courts, needs to be evaluated by the Supreme Court to issue guidance on constitutionality of the Super PACs.
The states also allege that in the decade since SpeechNow’s decision, the US has seen that the “express advocacy by Super PACs for particular candidates is not independent (in appearance or in reality)” and that such advocacy is “undercutting SpeechNow’s justifications for removing limits on contributions to Super PACs.” They also cite growing bipartisan support for limits on Super PACs as justification that the court should review the case.
Finally, they urge that the case be granted certiorari since it involves a federal statute, and “strong presumption also favors granting review of the Court of Appeals decision striking down a federal statute on First Amendment grounds.” That argument arises out of deference for the fact that Congress is a co-equal branch of government.