A judge of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has called for a vote to determine whether the case involving the constitutionality of Alaska’s $500 campaign contribution limit should be heard “en banc,” or by the entire panel.
The lawsuit Thompson vs. Hebdon has been dragging on for seven years. During that time, one of the plaintiffs, Aaron Downing, died. The other plaintiffs are Jim Crawford and David Thompson.
The men had challenged the State of Alaska’s statute that puts a $500 annual limit on an individual contribution to a political candidate, (2) the $500 limit on an individual contribution to a non-political party group, (3) annual limits on what a political party—including its subdivisions—may contribute to a candidate, and (4) the annual aggregate limit on contributions a candidate may accept from nonresidents of Alaska.
The decision went to the Supreme Court, which partially remanded it back to the Ninth Circuit. There, two judges made the decision in favor of the plaintiffs, saying the $500 limit is unconstitutional.
The Dunleavy Administration could have asked for the full Ninth Circuit to hear the case en band, but did not, even though Democrats begged him to quite publicly. The $500 limit works best for Democrats because their candidates enjoy more funding from unions.
Instead, a judge on the panel asked for the rehearing, likely at the request of Democrat Party interests; those interests control much of the judicial system.
Both sides of the case — the State and Thompson and Crawford, are directed by the court to submit briefs setting forth their positions as to whether the case should be reheard en banc. The court gave them 21 days to file the briefs.
Meanwhile, the Alaska Public Offices Commission says the $500 limit stands until the court issues a final order.