SCOTUS Opinion: Court Remands Alaska Political Contribution Limits Case For Closer Review

The first opinion handed down by the Court in its 2019 Term concerned Alaska’s law limiting contributions to candidates or election-oriented groups to $500 per year. The Ninth Circuit upheld the law, but the Court, in a per curiam decision in Thompson v. Hebdon, reversed and remanded. The Court noted that the Ninth Circuit chose not to apply the decision in Randall v. Sorrell, 548 U.S. 230 (2006), in which the Court rejected Vermont’s law restricting political contributions because those limitations were too low, which could also “harm the electoral process.” The Court noted similarities between Vermont’s law and Alaska’s, including the fact that Alaska’s limits were lower than any prior limit the Court had upheld, and not adjusted for inflation over time. The Court remanded the case for application of Randall and to consider whether any “special justification might warrant a contribution limit so low.” Justice Ginsburg filed a statement not opposing the remand, but noting “certain features” of Alaska’s law that might be deemed a sufficient “special justification.”

A link to the opinion is here.