Washington Examiner: Trump-appointed judge delivers fantastic campaign finance opinion in first ruling (In the News)

Washington Examiner: Trump-appointed judge delivers fantastic campaign finance opinion in first ruling

By Bradley A. Smith

“The unfortunate trend in modern constitutional law is not only to create rights that appear nowhere in the Constitution, but also to disfavor rights expressly enumerated by our Founders.”

This is the first line of the first judicial opinion written by Judge James C. Ho of the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit…

His first opinion, released in April, was a dissent in a case asking whether an Austin, Texas, $350 limit on political contributions was constitutional…

He began with a detailed analysis as to why Austin’s $350 limit on campaign contributions should be struck down as unconstitutionally low under Supreme Court precedent. Straightforward enough. Ho went further, questioning the right of government to limit political participation at all. “As citizens,” he wrote, “we enjoy the fundamental right to express our opinions on who does or does not belong in elected office.”

Ho pointed out that contribution limits prohibit the exercise of protected First Amendment rights to support candidates and voice political views even when there is no corruption whatsoever. Adding a badly needed dose of realism, Ho wrote, “Countless Americans contribute for no other reason than to support candidates who share their beliefs and interests … without any inkling of a quid pro quo agreement. Indeed, many Americans contribute without ever even communicating with the candidate. … A donor might simply be inspired by the candidate’s prior record of public service, proposed future action, or a particular speech or debate performance. Such contributions are far from corrupt.”

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.