(CN) – A Minnesota election law requiring disclosure of corporate political donations imposes no greater burden on corporate free speech than disclosure laws the Supreme Court upheld in its controversial Citizens United decision, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The decision by a split panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a lower court ruling which denied a preliminary injunction asked for by groups challenging the law because they were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their case.
The law, which was revised after the Supreme Court’s ruling, requires that corporations making political contributions in excess of $100 must form a separate political fund with an appointed treasurer and disclose their name, address and the amount of their contributions.
The plaintiffs in the case, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and Coastal Travel Enterprises had argued that these requirements were tantamount to an outright ban on direct corporate independent expenditures.
The majority disagreed saying that “disclosure laws do not materially prevent anyone from speaking” and that “the burden on corporations appears light and the reporting requirement greatly facilitates the government’s informational interest in monitoring corporate independent expenditures.”
Chief Judge William Riley dissented, in part, saying that the law’s “provisions manifestly discourage corporations, particularly corporations with limited resources, from engaging in protected political speech, and hinder their participation in the political debate and their access to the citizenry and the government.”
Riley went on to say “Under Minnesota’s scheme, a corporation is compelled to decide whether exercising its constitutional right is worth the time and expense of entering a long-term or even perpetual morass of regulatory red tape.”