Federal District Judge Paul Crotty today granted CIR’s motion for summary judgment against New York’s unconstitutional limits on campaign contributions to independent campaign committees. Judge Crotty ruled from the bench during oral argument in New York Protection and Progress PAC v. Walsh, a case in which CIR is representing a PAC that was formed to support conservative candidates in New York.
CIR Gets Injunction in Twenty Days!
IR represented the New York Progress and Protection PAC (“NYP3”) in a precedent-setting effort to end unconstitutional campaign spending limits on independent campaign committees — committees that are not connected with individual candidates. NYP3 was such an independent campaign committee, one formed to run television, radio, and print advertisements on behalf of conservative political candidates in New York State.
NYP3 was blocked from participating in New York City’s 2013 mayoral election because of New York’s campaign finance laws that limit contributions to $150,000 per election cycle. NYP3 had secured a promise of $200,000 from Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, but it could not accept Mr. McCutcheon’s contribution because of the New York limits.
CIR successfully claimed that New York’s limits violated NYP3’s rights of free speech and association. First, the limits deprived NYP3 from soliciting contributions from donors with the means and interest in contributing more than the limits allowed (that is, wealthy donors). And second, NYP3’s inability to solicit a handful of large contributions made it impossible to raise enough funds during the short period between the end of primaries and the election with which to credibly participate in such campaigns as the recent New York City mayoral campaign.
In October, 2013 the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted CIR’s motion for a preliminary injunction — twenty days after filing. In so ruling the Court of Appeals determined that CIR was likely to prevail on the merits. Our task then was to win the case before the District Court. CIR’s victory in this case buttressed the Supreme Court’s rulings going back several decades that the state may not ration political speech based on assumptions about the wealth of the speaker.