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Ninth Circuit Upholds Campaign Finance Reform

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 30, 2018 1:10 PM

In legal research, it is not usually a priority to look for unpublished decisions.

But sometimes they give insights to courts and the law that may be useful. In Montanans for Community Development v. Mangan, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals chose not to publish the case because it was not precedential.

The case caught the attention of major media, however, because campaign finance law is really important to some people -- like the President of the United States.

Campaign Finance Reform

Of course, Montana is not Washington. But the legal principles at issue in the Montana case are the same.

A group called Montanans for Community Development wanted to distribute mailers before the 2016 election. The mailers alleged that certain candidates impeded coal development.

Montana's Disclose Act, which seeks campaign finance reform, requires such organizations to register and disclose their donors. The group refused and sued, saying the law was unconstitutional.

A trial judge dismissed the case, and the appeals court affirmed.

"Scattershot" and "Absurd"

With a twist of the dagger, the Ninth Circuit killed the case. The judges said the appellant's claims were "scattershot" and "absurd."

The panel said the group didn't even have standing to sue on one claim. On others, the judges gave them the moot boot.

What was left was a "scattershot" of arguments about uncertainty and vagueness. The Ninth Circuit rejected them and awarded costs to the appellees.

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