10th Circuit Fuzzy on Colorado Election Law

DENVER (CN) – Four weeks before Election Day, the 10th Circuit still has questions about the meaning of a Colorado law that requires political groups to divulge who pays for their ads.
     Citizens United sued Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler in August in Federal Court. The organization claimed that the state’s Reporting and Disclosure Requirement Statute violated the First and 14th Amendments, by requiring Citizens United to report who paid for their politically focused movie, while other media organizations in the state were exempt from the regulations and were free to report on political subjects.
     The group’s petition to stop the state from enforcing the regulations on Citizens United was denied in late September.
     Judge Gregory Philips began an appellate hearing Tuesday morning at the 10th Circuit by saying there was still some confusion about the law what it regulated.
     “I want to make sure we are all on the same page,” Phillips said.
     Phillips asked the Secretary of State’s attorney Matt Grove to explain to the panel what the statute meant.
     Phillips and Judge Timothy Tymkovich asked Grove what had been considered, and if the content expressed through a form of media had anything to do with whether an organization must disclose its information.
     Grove said it had less to do with the content. “It is more focused on the form of communication,” Grove said.
     Citizens’ attorney Theodore Olson also said it is not clear what the statute says.
     “These statutorial regulations are vague,” Olson said. “What counsel says today may be different from what counsel says tomorrow.”
     With the questions hanging in the air, Judge Philips said the panel will have a decision soon.

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