Legal Library

Colorado Right to Life Committee v. Buckley


In Colorado Right to Life Committee v. Buckley, the Institute represents the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Colorado Chapter (Colorado ACORN), in defense of contribution limits enacted by Colorado voters in a 1996 ballot initiative. This initiative, brought by the Colorado chapters of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, established $500 contribution limits per election ($1,000 per cycle) for statewide candidates and $100 contribution limits ($200 per cycle) for state legislative candidates. In August 1999, the federal district court in Denver struck down the limits on First Amendment grounds, and the State of Colorado appealed that ruling.

In December 1999, the Institute filed an amicus brief [forthcoming] with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. In our brief, we joined the Colorado State Attorney General's Office in arguing that the district court's decision contravenes the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld contribution limits for federal elections as justified by a governmental interest in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.

The Tenth Circuit's ruling in this case is significant, as it will mark one of the first federal appellate rulings to address the constitutionality of campaign contribution limits lower than the $1,000 per election level. Although many jurisdictions have contribution limits lower than $1,000 per election, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to address directly this question. A decision from the Tenth Circuit is expected this year.