California Political Reform ActGay Marriage

California Proposition 8 Supporters File Federal Suit Challenging California Campaign Finance Laws

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Today supporters of California Proposition 8 that restored the traditional definition of marriage (one man and one woman) to the California constitution filed a federal lawsuit which challenges the constitutionality of California’s campaign finance laws.

Acting on behalf of hundreds of supporters of Proposition 8 who have experienced various acts of harassment including death threats at the hands of opponents, the ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8 committee today filed a challenge in US federal court to the constitutionality of California’s campaign finance laws that compel disclosure of personal information of Prop 8 donors.

“There has been a systematic attempt to intimidate, threaten and harass donors to the Proposition 8 campaign,” said Ron Prentice, Chairman of ProtectMarriage.com. “This harassment is made possible because of California’s unconstitutional campaign finance disclosure rules as applied to ballot measure committees where even donors of as little as $100 must have their names, home addresses and employers listed on public documents. These disclosure rules violate the US constitution in numerous ways. We are standing up for our contributors to ensure that the harassment stops.”

This suit will test the rights of an individual’s freedom of speech versus the compelling state interest in assuring disclosure of campaign contributions to avoid corruption of the political process. the suit alleges the California Political Reform Act is unconstituional for a number of reasons:

  • The right of contributors to exercise their First Amendment rights free from threats, harassment and reprisals outweighs the state’s interest in compelled disclosure;

  • The Act’s requirements that committees report all contributors of $100 or more is unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment because it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
  • The Act’s requirement for ballot measure committees to file any reports after the election is unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
  • The Act is unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it does not contain a mechanism for purging all reports related to a ballot measure after the election has occurred.

If anything the $100 contribution level for disclosure appears to be inordintely low for this day and age. But, will the federal appellate courts tinker with a California Legislature’s limit or throw out the entire process in an internet era which makes “chilling” free speech easier?

Ultimately, the United States Supreme Court will weigh into these issues.

Stay tuned…….


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