Federal appeals court sides with Vermont in campaign finance case


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for Vermont in a case seeking to overturn aspects of the state's campaign finance laws.

The Vermont Right to Life Committee challenged the constitutionality of Vermont's campaign finance reporting and disclosure requirements and the state's limit on contributions to its affiliated independent expenditure group.

The group sought to overturn requirements that political speech identify its sponsor, that PACs report mass media spendings, as well as the state's definition of a PAC. The Vermont Right to Life Committee is a nonprofit corporation and its political action committee supports anti-abortion candidates.

The Second Circuit upheld a 2012 district court decision rejecting Vermont Right to Life Committee's arguments. The decision is a validation of Vermont's campaign finance laws, said Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, who argued the case for the Vermont Attorney General's Office.

Vermont Right to Life Committee attorney James Bopp Jr. said Monday he plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

He did not say if he would appeal all or part of the decision. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it could rule narrowly on aspects of the case.

An appeal must be filed within 90 days of the July 2 ruling.

Bopp is counsel for the National Right to Life Committee and a prominent conservative lawyer who has brought many of the challenges to campaign finance regulations nationally.

In its ruling, the Second Circuit relied on the Supreme Court's Citizen's United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which holds that spending money can be considered speech. But the ruling permits laws that require disclosure of that spending, because "the public has an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate shortly before an election."


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