U.S. court nixes Minnesota campaign finance law

A divided U.S. Court of Appeals ruled a Minnesota law requiring corporations to report their "independent expenditures" has a chilling effect on political free speech. Those contributions are made to support or oppose a particular cause but not controlled by a candidate. The court says the reporting requirements set up burdens that are "most likely unconstitutional."

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected parts of a Minnesota law that set reporting requirements for companies that contribute money to influence elections. The Wall Street Journal reports the court ruled the law's requirements had a chilling effect on the companies exercising political free speech.

Reuters reports Minnesota's law and Wednesday's appeals court ruling are part of the shakeout in the wake of 2010's landmark Supreme Court ruling removing limits on political spending by companies and unions.

The Star Tribune report includes reaction from the attorney who challenged the law and from its chief author in the Legislature. One sees it as a victory for free speech. The other as eliminating sunlight for the political spending of the powerful.

The case was brought by Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life and other groups against state Attorney General Lori Swanson. You can find the opinion here.

Next Up


Campaign finance board investigating Minnesota GOP finances

State officials have opened an investigation following allegations that the Republican Party may have violated campaign finance rules. The Minnesota GOP is $2 million in debt. That includes $415,000 of debt that party officials reportedly failed to disclose. The Pioneer Press says the GOP could face federal penalties, as well.

Appeals court nixes most contempt counts in Minn. terror case

The Associated Press reports the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out 19 of the 20 contempt-of-court citations against one of the Rochester women convicted of funneling money to a terrorist group in Somalia. The three-judge panel sent the case back to Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis for further proceedings.

Federal health law has big day in Minnesota court

A panel of judges in St. Paul on Thursday will hear arguments about whether to revive a lawsuit brought by two Missouri residents who object to the law's requirement that they buy health insurance. The argument has drawn support from critics nationwide as well as Republican lawmakers in Minnesota. A lower court dismissed the case, saying the challengers failed to show that the law would harm them directly.

Opponents take Wisconsin's voter ID law to court

The League of Women Voters has sued to try to stop a law that would require voters to show a photo ID before they can cast a ballot. The law is set to go into effect in Wisconsin in 2012. Republicans in Minnesota want to pass a similar rule but Gov. Dayton is opposed.