States rights, the will of the people, and the ability to achieve local reform is at stake in a case involving our northern-most state.
In 1996 the Alaska legislature passed campaign finance reform that, among other things, capped individual contributions at $500 to a candidate. The popular law was raised in 2003 by the legislature to $1,000. However, the voters weren’t having it, and they overwhelmingly voted to return the limit to $500 by a 3:1 margin in 2006.
Despite the will of the people, expressed in the legislature and at the ballot box, Alaska is now being sued.
Plaintiffs are arguing that the limits are among the lowest in the nation and restrict First Amendment rights. The state, on the other hand, is arguing that the courts- which struck down Vermont’s law in 2006- have not imposed a litmus test, and Alaska’s rule is a “reasonable amount that allows enough contributions for effective campaigns while reducing the potential for corruption or the appearance of corruption.”
The lower courts have, so far, upheld the law, and the case now sits before a three judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Organizations like the Brennan Center are expressing support for the will of the Alaskan people.
What do you think? Is this a good law? Given the support of the people, does it even matter? At what point should the federal judicial system weigh in to override the states’ efforts for reform? Join the conversation on Facebook and continue to check Take Back.org for the latest thoughts on reform.