Brennan Center Files Brief Defending Alaskan Citizens’ Vote to Cap Campaign Contributions

July 26, 2017

Today, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and pro bono counsel from the law firm Reed Smith LLP filed an amicus brief in Thompson v. Hebdon, defending the constitutionality of a ballot measure in Alaska that, among other things, enacted a $500 limit on contributions to candidates for state office. The case is before a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals following a lower court’s decision affirming the limit’s constitutionality.

The brief urges the court to uphold the ballot measure, setting forth the broad factual inquiry that should be used to assess such contribution limits and addressing other erroneous contentions made by the plaintiffs. The arguments are similar to those the Brennan Center put forward in a challenge to Montana’s system of contributions that is also pending before the Ninth Circuit, in a case captioned Lair v. Motl.

“The record, case law, and empirical evidence from around the country all show that large campaign contributions create a risk of corruption and its appearance,” said Brent Ferguson, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Alaska voters’ decision to pass the law deserves deference, and the state has easily proven that its contribution limits address a genuine risk and should be upheld.”  

Read the Brennan Center’s case page on Thompson v. Hebdon.

Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on money in politics.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Blaire Perel at (646) 925-8734 or