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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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High Court Won’t Nix|Campaign Spending Cap

(CN) - The Supreme Court has turned down a request to jettison a Washington state campaign-finance law that caps donations at $5,000 in the last three weeks of ballot measure campaigns.

The high court declined to lift the 9th Circuit's stay of a federal court order declaring the contribution limit unconstitutional.

Family PAC, an anti-gay-rights political action committee, had challenged a provision limiting its spending to $5,000 in the 21 days before a general election. It also objected to public disclosure provisions that allegedly caused supporters to scale back donations for fear of having their identities revealed.

Family PAC said the provisions violated the First and 14th Amendments.

The group had organized to support initiatives and referendums aimed at strengthening "traditional family values," including a referendum on a gay-rights law known as the "everything but marriage" domestic partnership bill.

Last September, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton struck down the $5,000 campaign spending limit but upheld the public disclosure laws.

The 9th Circuit stayed the first part of Leighton's ruling earlier this month, saying "the equities lie heavily in the state's favor."

"Family PAC has failed to identify any contributions greater than $5,000 that it expects to receive in the event that the law is overturned, and indeed it has submitted no disclosure statements this campaign season and appears not to be participating in the upcoming general election," the circuit court ruled.

"On the other hand, Washington and its voters have a significant interest in preventing the State's longstanding campaign finance laws from being upended by the courts so soon before the upcoming election."

Family PAC appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court, which denied the group's application to vacate the 9th Circuit's stay.

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