Contribution limits law arguments held

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

ST. LOUIS -- The same federal appeals court that rejected Missouri's limits on donations from political parties to candidates for statewide office shouldn't waver from that opinion, lawyers for the Missouri Republican Party argued Monday.

In brief oral arguments before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, attorneys for the state GOP said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in a similar case does not require the appeals court to change its earlier view that such limits are unconstitutional.

The high court ordered the 8th Circuit to reconsider the Missouri law after issuing a landmark decision earlier this year in a case from Colorado. In the Colorado case, the court allowed limits on the amounts parties may spend in concert with candidates for federal office.

The Missouri law is slightly different; it concerns money and "in-kind" contributions given directly to candidates for state office. The limits are set at $11,175 for statewide candidates, $5,600 to state Senate candidates, and $2,800 to state House candidates.

Voters approved the limits in 1994.

Republican challenge

Specifically, the state GOP said it is challenging the enforcement of the law during the 1998 general election. At that time, a separate state law setting limits on individual political contributions was still undergoing a court challenge and had been placed on hold.

Since the law setting limits on parties is based on the individual limits, "the state simply has no valid interest in enforcing limits at that time," said Bruce La Pierre, an attorney for the Missouri GOP and a law professor at Washington University.

The Supreme Court later ruled 6-3 that Missouri's limits on individual contributions are allowed under the constitution.

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