by Scott Reeder
Journalist in Residence
A federal judge Friday rebuffed a political action committee’s
efforts to have Illinois campaign finance limits ruled unconstitutional.
“Challenging the constitutionality of any statute is an
uphill battle,” said Diane Cohen of the Liberty Justice Center, a public-interest
law firm. At question is a state law that establishes contribution
limits on individuals and associations while exempting political parties and
their leaders from these same limits. The Liberty Justice
Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of Illinois Liberty PAC and Edgar Bachrach
contending that the law violates free speech rights protected by the U.S.
Because of the upcoming election, Liberty Justice Center is
filing for an emergency appeal to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
ruling U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman said, “No Justice has espoused the
view pressed here by Plaintiffs, that the First Amendment prohibits
jurisdictions with contribution limits from treating parties more favorably
It therefore is highly unlikely that the Act violates the First
Amendment by exempting political parties from the contribution limits imposed
on individuals and PACs.”
The Liberty Justice Center alleges that Illinois political
leaders legislated themselves above the law and literally sanctioned their own
control over the flow of campaign spending throughout the state. And it alleges
the entire act fails to serve any anti-corruption purposes.
But the legal brief filed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s
office countered: “The First Amendment protects the
symbolic act of making the contribution, not the freedom to have the largest
impact on the campaign.”
The Liberty Justice Center was founded by the Illinois