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Personal Pac, An Illinois Not For Profit Corporation, Marcena W. v. William M. Mcguffage

March 13, 2012

PERSONAL PAC, AN ILLINOIS NOT FOR PROFIT CORPORATION, MARCENA W. LOVE, GRACE ALLEN NEWTON, PLAINTIFFS
v.
WILLIAM M. MCGUFFAGE, CHAIRMAN OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; JESSE R. SMART, VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; HAROLD D. BYERS, MEMBER OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; BETTY J. COFFRIN, MEMBER OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; ERNEST L. GOWEN, MEMBER OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; JUDITH C. RICE, MEMBER OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; BRYAN A. SCHNEIDER, MEMBER OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS; AND CHARLES W. SCHOLZ, MEMBER OF THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTION, ALL IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marvin E. Aspen, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Personal PAC, a non-for profit, pro-choice political action committee ("PAC"), brought this suit against members of the Illinois State Board of Elections to stop enforcement of portions of the Illinois Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(d) and 10 ILCS 5/9-2(d). As written, § 5/9-8.5(d) limits the amount of money a PAC may accept from an individual or group during an election cycle and § 5/9-2(d) prohibits individuals and groups from forming more than one PAC. Together, Personal PAC argues, these regulations unconstitutionally restrict the amount of money that it may spend to engage in political speech. This suit does not contest restrictions on contributions made directly to political candidates, it instead focuses solely on independent expenditures: money used to advocate for or against a specific candidate without coordination with any public official, candidate, or political party.*fn1 In light the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S.-, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010) (finding that the government interest in preventing actual and apparent corruption cannot justify restrictions on independent expenditures) and the Seventh Circuit's recent decision in Wisconsin Right to Life State Political Action Committee v. Barland, 664 F.3d 139 (7th Cir. 2011) (finding no valid government interest sufficient to impose restrictions on contributions to independent-expenditure-only PACs), we agree that §§ 5/9-8.5(d) and 5/9-2(d) violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. We stress, however, that our ruling is a narrow one. This order prevents the Board of Elections from enforcing only the first sentences of §§ 5/9-8.5(d) and 5/9-2(d) as applied to independent-expenditure-only PACs; the remainder of the Illinois Election Code continues to be fully enforceable, and all parts of §§ 5/9-8.5(d) and 5/9-2(d) continue to be valid as applied to non-independent-expenditure-only PACs.

II. BACKGROUND

On February 14, 2012, Plaintiffs Personal PAC, Marcena W. Love, and Grace Allen Newton (collectively "Personal PAC") filed a motion for a preliminary injunction or, in the alternative, expedited permanent injunctive relief. Defendants William M. McGuffage and seven other members of the Illinois State Board of Elections, all in their official capacity (collectively "Defendants" or "ISBE"), submitted a brief in opposition, as did the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform ("ICPR"), as amicus.

Section 5/9-8.5(d) of the Illinois Election Code states in full: During an election cycle, a political action committee may not accept contributions with an aggregate value over the following: (i) $10,000 from any individual, (ii) $20,000 from any corporation, labor organization, political party committee, or association, or (iii) $50,000 from a political action committee or candidate political committee. A political action committee may not accept contributions from a ballot initiative committee.

10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(d). Section 5/9-2(d) states in full: Beginning January 1, 2011, no natural person, trust, partnership, committee, association, corporation, or other organization or group of persons forming a political action committee shall maintain or establish more than one political action committee. The name of a political action committee must include the name of the entity forming the committee.

Id. at 2(d).

Personal PAC asserts that, but for these prohibitions, it would immediately: "(a) create a segregated independent-expenditure-only account for the purpose of soliciting and receiving contributions in excess of the current limits and for use solely for independent expenditures to elect pro-choice candidates . . . ; (b) establish one or more additional independent-expenditure-only PACs to receive those contributions; or (c) become a PAC that exclusively makes independent expenditures, again, to receive those contributions."*fn2 Personal PAC further asserts that Plaintiffs Love and Newton are "ready, willing and able to establish and maintain one or more independent-expenditure-only PACs, for the same purpose, and to immediately contribute more than $10,000." (Mem. at 3--4.) Therefore, Plaintiffs ask that we enjoin Defendants from enforcing:

(1) . . . contribution limits, including those set forth in the first sentence of 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(d), as applied to contributions to any independent-expenditure-only PACs[, and]

(2) . . . prohibitions against the establishment or maintenance of more than one PAC by any person, trust, partnership, committee, association, corporation, or other organization or group of persons, including the prohibition to that effect contained in the first sentence in 10 ILCS 5/9-2(d), as applied to the establishment or maintenance of independent-expenditure-only PACs. (Reply, Ex. A (Personal PAC's Proposed Declaratory and Injunctive Order of Relief).)

III. ANALYSIS

A. Preliminary Injunctive Relief

We evaluate Personal PAC's request under the familiar standards for preliminary injunctions. To obtain such relief, the moving party must show that its case has some likelihood of success on the merits, that no adequate remedy at law exists, and that it will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted. Ty, Inc. v. Jones Group, Inc., 237 F.3d 891, 895 (7th Cir. 2001); Nav-Aids Ltd. v. Nav-Aids USA, Inc., No. 01 C 0051, 2001 WL 1298719, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 25, 2001). If these three conditions are met, we must then balance the hardships the moving party will suffer in the absence of relief against those the nonmoving party will suffer if the injunction is granted. Ty, Inc., 237 F.3d at 895. Finally, we consider the public interest-that is, the interest of non-parties-in deciding whether to grant injunctive relief. Id. We weigh all these factors, "'sitting as would a chancellor in equity.'" Id. (quoting Abbott Labs. v. Mead Johnson & Co., 971 F.2d 6, 11 (7th Cir. 1992)). We use a "sliding scale approach" in conducting this analysis, whereby the likelihood of success on the merits and the balance of irreparable harms are inversely proportional. Id.; Duct-O-Wire Co. v. U.S. Crane, ...


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