Minnesota federal judge strikes down corporate contribution ban

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May 10, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

ST. PAUL, Minnesota: Minnesota federal judge Paul Magnuson struck down parts of Minnesota's ban on campaign contributions made by corporations in one of the first court rulings invoking the landmark Citizens United ruling on May 7, 2010[1].

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce was successful in convincing the judge that parts of the state's ban on some corporate contributions violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the principle of free speech[1]. As part of the decision, corporations can spend unlimited sums of money in supporting or opposing candidates using independent expenditures. Attorneys for the Minnesota Chamber used the recent Citizens United ruling[1] to strike down a 1988 law that banned all corporate contributions including independent expenditures[2]. However, the ban on corporations directly contributing to candidates still remains the law[1].

The ruling would have no effect on statewide referendum campaigns as corporations and labor unions have been always been allowed to spend unlimited sums of money to support or oppose a referendum[3].

In response to the ruling, groups like Common Cause of Minnesota will press the Minnesota Legislature to pass legislation to require disclosure of corporate independent expenditures in the remaining days of legislative session. An official for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said that they are receptive to the idea of new disclosure laws, but have not commented on what specific legislation they will support[1].

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