Sampson v. Buescher, No. 08-1389
First Amendment Challenge to Ballot Expenditure Law
In Sampson v. Buescher, No. 08-1389, a First Amendment challenge to a Colorado law requiring that any group of two or more persons that had accepted or made contributions or expenditures exceeding $200 to support or oppose a ballot issue must register as an issue committee and report the names and addresses of anyone who contributes $20 or more, the court reversed summary judgment for defendants where there was virtually no proper governmental interest in imposing disclosure requirements on ballot-initiative committees that raised and expended so little money, and that limited interest cannot justify the burden that those requirements imposed on such a committee.
As the court wrote: "There is nothing novel about requiring election campaign committees in
this country to file periodic reports, including disclosures of names of contributors and the amount contributed. Many judicial decisions have considered whether particular reporting and disclosure requirements can withstand scrutiny under the First Amendment. The great bulk of those decisions, however, concern committees that are working for or against candidates for public office."