John C. Eastman
jeastman at CHAPMAN.EDU
Wed Mar 15 10:36:43 PST 2000
I had an interesting question from a federal Judge this week.
Where is a district judge supposed to look to determine the
government's interest in adopting regulations that are
restrictive of speech and association rights? Only in the
codified "purpose" section of the statute/ordinance? In
committee reports and other legislative history, if any? In
affidavits by individual legislators? In public opinion polls?
The issue arises in the context of a challenge to a city
ordinance restricting contributions to political committees
making independent expenditures in city council elections. The
ordinance has a statutory purpose section that demonstrates a
leveling the playing field rationale that was soundly rejected by
the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo. I know under rational
basis review, any conceivable purpose will suffice, but the
scrutiny level here is much higher -- something very close to
strict scrutiny, if not strict scrutiny itself. (The Court has
applied slightly less than strict scrutiny when assessing limits
on contributions TO CANDIDATES, but strict scrutiny when
assessing limits on independent expenditures and "exacting"
scrutiny when assessing limits on contributions to committees
making independent expenditures in support or opposition to
With these higher levels of scrutiny, can the court look beyond
the codified purpose? Must it?
Anyone know of any case law on the subject?
Dr. John C. Eastman
Chapman University School of Law
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