FROM THE LIBERTY JUSTICE CENTER
MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Rickert
Diana@IllinoisPolicy.org or (312) 607-4977
CHICAGO (July 25, 2012) – The Liberty Justice Center, a public interest litigation center started by the Illinois Policy Institute, has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Illinois’ campaign finance law. The lawsuit shows that Illinois’ campaign finance law violates the First Amendment and equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Under the guise of “reform,” Illinois’ campaign finance law was passed in 2009 and amended earlier this month. The law places limits on political contributions during a general, statewide election – except when political parties or political leaders make these contributions.
“This wasn’t campaign finance reform; this legislation restricted the free speech rights of citizens of Illinois – including our client, Illinois Liberty PAC – while the political parties and party leaders exempted themselves from the law and also created ways to circumvent this law,” said Diane Cohen, general counsel of the Liberty Justice Center. “We have filed a motion asking the court for a preliminary or permanent injunction to enjoin the enforcement of certain portions of this Act, so that so that all Illinoisans can freely exercise their rights to free speech.”
As the law currently is written, there are no restrictions on what political parties can give to candidates. Meanwhile, average citizens are restricted and can only donate what political leaders decide.
The practical result of this law is that political parties, party bosses and party leaders can enjoy unlimited donations and give unlimited amounts to candidates of their choosing. Meanwhile, candidates who do not have the backing of party bosses face steep limits – which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to take on incumbents and entrenched interests.
“Party bosses should have to live under the same laws they impose on the rest of us,” said Dan Proft, chairman of Illinois Liberty PAC, the plaintiff in the case. “This law is a scheme to further consolidate power in the hands of party bosses by limiting the participation and free speech rights of 13 million Illinoisans. Everyone who wants to participate in the political process in Illinois should be treated equally.”
The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Chicago.
A copy of the complaint is available online at: http://tinyurl.com/ljc-campaignfinance
The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest litigation center that was started by the Illinois Policy Institute. The Liberty Justice Center fights to protect economic and personal liberty, private property rights, free speech and other fundamental rights in Illinois and nationwide. First and foremost, the Liberty Justice Center seeks to ensure that the rights to earn a living and to start a business, which are essential to a free and prosperous society, are available not just to a politically privileged few, but to all. The Liberty Justice Center pursues its goals through strategic, precedent-setting litigation to revitalize constitutional restraints on government power and protections for individual rights. To learn more about the Liberty Justice Center, visit: libertyjusticecenter.org.