The Next Domino – New York Knocks Down Limits to SuperPACs

Last week, Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York ruled that New York Election Laws §§ 14-114(8) and 14-126, which impose limits on the amount of money that may be contributed to political candidates, are unconstitutional as applied to independent expenditure-only organizations. The full opinion can be downloaded here. 

New York’s Election Law had applied the $150,000 aggregate contribution limit to SuperPACs. In other words, a contributor could only give up to $150,000, despite contrary rulings in Citizens United and SpeechNow v. FEC (see here).  The Second Circuit made clear back in October that it disagreed when it reversed the district’s decision to deny the preliminary injunction sought to prevent enforcement of the limit and sent the case back down.

Consequently, contribution limits to independent expenditure-only committees have seen their last day in New York. This decision represents the fall of yet another domino in the ongoing movement away from contribution limits by U.S. courts.  The next one? New York’s $150,000 annual aggregate limit applicable to all political recipients, including candidate committees and political parties.