A federal court’s decision to stop the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission from enforcing a limit on contributions received by political committees doing only independent spending for political speech will remain in effect for now, according to the federal appeals court.

Hawaii residents Jimmy Yamada and Russell Stewart want to contribute $2500 to the Aloha Family Alliance – Political Action Committee before the 2010 general election. But Hawaii law limits their contributions to $1000 each for the 2010 primary and the 2010 general election, so Yamada and Stewart’s contributions would be illegal.

The lower federal court held that the limit is unconstitutional as applied to contributions to PAC’s only doing independent speech. The court decided to immediately stop Hawaii from enforcing the limit. The State had asked the appeals court to put the injunction on hold while they appealed the lower court’s decision. The Ninth Circuit has now denied that request so that the injunction remains in effect and the plaintiffs can go ahead with their contributions.

“The Ninth Circuit has refused to put this unconstitutional limit back into effect,” said James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “This is consistent with its prior decisions recognizing that limiting contributions to political committees doing only independent spending for political speech is unconstitutional.”

The case is titled Yamada v. Kuramoto, and is in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. Information about the case can be found at www.jamesmadisoncenter.org

Submitted by James Bopp, Jr. He has a national campaign finance and election law practice with Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom and is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech.

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