Trump Judges on: Money in Politics

Trump judges and nominees who have fought limits on campaign contributions or expenditures:

John Bush (Sixth Circuit) wrote an amicus brief on behalf of Mitch McConnell arguing that several provisions of Kentucky’s campaign finance law were unconstitutional.

Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, dissented from a decision that held that the Colorado Secretary of State did not have the authority to raise campaign finance reporting limits for issue committees, groups whose purpose is to support or oppose a ballot question.

Thomas Farr (Nominated to Eastern District of North Carolina; Withdrawn) represented a Republican candidate for North Carolina State Senate accused of violating North Carolina’s “Stand by Your Ad” law, which required certain disclosures in political advertisements.

Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, struck down a Colorado statute that imposed lower campaign contribution limits on minor party candidates than those applied to major party candidates. He authored a concurring opinion in the case suggesting limits on campaign contributions were unconstitutional.

Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit), while Chief Deputy Attorney General, challenged the constitutionality of the Nebraska legislature’s campaign finance reforms.

James Ho (Fifth Circuit) authored an article opposing any limits on campaign contributions, and then on the Fifth Circuit argued that limits on campaign contributions are unconstitutional.

Steven Menashi (Second Circuit) opposes any contribution limits. He wrote, “When the Congress decided to restrict such freedom by limiting political contributions, it led politicians to resort to actual criminality.”

Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) supported a bill to raise the aggregate limit for state senators on PAC donations to $472,000 every two years. The current limit is $472,000 every four years. He also supported legislation, which became law, that allowed corporations to make direct campaign contributions.

Lee Rudofsky (Eastern District of Arkansas) claimed that “I think $5 billion is a pretty reasonable amount of money to spend in a conversation with the American public about who should be the leader of the free world,” and called corporate campaign spending “signs of a functioning democratic republic” and “the physical embodiment of the First Amendment.”

Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) sided with a Texas Tea Party group in their efforts to overturn campaign finance rules.

Amul Thapar (Sixth Circuit), as a district court judge, enjoined enforcement of eight rules of judicial conduct that Kentucky had enacted to keep judges nonpartisan and judicial candidates out of partisan politics. In that case, he used a severely flawed First Amendment analysis to strike down Kentucky’s ban on state judicial candidates contributing money to political organizations or candidates. The Sixth Circuit unanimously reversed that part of his decision.