• Upholds State Bans on Judicial Campaign Solicitations, Fortifies Judicial Independence

    Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an important campaign finance case Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, upholding a state ban on direct campaign solicitations by judicial candidates.

    “The 5-4 decision in this case is a victory for the voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS). “Twenty-nine states have laws similar to the Florida ban. The court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, found the Florida ban to be constitutional because it increases the public’s confidence and trust in judicial candidates.”

    The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of Florida joined an amicus brief on Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, focusing on the constitutionality of a state prohibition on the direct solicitation of campaign donations by candidates for judicial office. The brief argued in favor of the prohibition because the public must have confidence in the independence and impartiality of judges.

    “The League has been a leader in seeking campaign finance reform at the state, local and federal levels for more than three decades. The League joined in this case to further the simple goal of protecting government that is transparent and accountable to voters.” MacNamara said.

    “The court’s decision in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar is an important step toward that goal,” concluded MacNamara.

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

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  •  Testimony at Public Hearing on Money in Politics Calls for Full Disclosure

    Washington, D.C.  – Today Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters, addressed members of the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) during a public hearing on issues of money in politics. At the hearing, President MacNamara called on the agency to update regulations on campaign finance laws to provide full disclosure in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC.

    “Voters care deeply about this issue of campaign finance and corruption,” said MacNamara. “And voters understand that billionaires and secret organizations don’t represent them and that huge sums of money corrupt our political system.”

    “We ask that you update FEC regulations to provide for such full disclosure so that the Court’s decision in Citizens United does not continue as the giant loophole for secret giving that it has become,” MacNamara said.

    This is unacceptable in a democracy,” MacNamara said. “Secret money has no place in America's elections. Voters deserve to know -- have a right to know -- who is making unlimited political expenditures and influencing elections.”

    In addition, SuperPACs and other outside groups can raise and spend unlimited amounts because they are supposedly ‘independentfrom the candidate, but in reality there are many ways to coordinate that are not blocked by current regulations,” MacNamara said. “It is time for the FEC to step in and better regulate these outside groups.”

    The abuses we have talked about today undermine our democracy by corrupting our elections and overwhelming the voices of regular citizens and voters,” concluded MacNamara. “That ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ organizations are violating the law and biasing our elections should not be relevant. Indeed, there are abuses by all sides. The League of Women Voters urges the FEC to protect the voters and enforce the law.”

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

    Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • “Court decision is a big step forward in fight for voter-based redistricting,” says League

    Washington, D.C.  – Late yesterday, a Florida Circuit Court issued an opinion in Romo v. Detzner, a case that examined whether Florida's congressional districts violate that state’s constitution.  The final judgment of the court was that the congressional map drawn by the Florida legislature and adopted in 2012 violates the Fair District Amendments to Florida’s constitution which were adopted by citizen initiative in 2010 to remove partisan influence from the redistricting process. The League of Women Voters of Florida was the lead organizational plaintiff in the lawsuit, and was the driving force behind passage of the Fair Districts Amendments.

    “This decision gives us a new tool to fight partisan gerrymandering,” said national League President, Elisabeth MacNamara. “The criteria adopted by the citizens of Florida and enforced by the court are effective in fighting partisan gerrymandering. This case provides a roadmap for other states to limit partisan gerrymandering and force an open and transparent process for drawing congressional lines.”

    “Today, we see that voters can win,” MacNamara said. “We can have redistricting processes that allow the voters to choose their representatives rather than the politicians choosing the voters. We now have a track record in Florida and California, of successful, citizen-led initiatives by the League of Women Voters that have used both redistricting criteria and an independent commission to fight partisan gerrymandering.”

    During the case, the Florida courts required legislators to disclose secret emails used in the redistricting process that helped this court decide that the Florida congressional redistricting was intentionally designed to benefit one political party over the other. “This decision once again shows the importance of transparency. It was essential for the legislators to come clean and reveal what was really going on in the redistricting process. Citizens have a right to have government act in the open rather than in secret,” MacNamara said.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • “Yet another irresponsible decision on money in politics by the Roberts Court,” says League

    Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that aggregate campaign contribution limits are invalid in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The case challenged the limits on the total contributions from an individual donor to candidates and political committees in order to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption. The League of Women Voters of the U.S. joined an amicus brief in this case.

    “This is yet another irresponsible decision on money in politics by the Roberts Court,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “The Court has used the McCutcheon decision to continue dismantling the wall of protection against corruption – case by case, brick by brick.”

    “The importance of this decision cannot be overstated,” MacNamara said. “While McCutcheon dealt with a technical and arcane matter of campaign finance law, in the end it is all about more money and more influence. In this decision, as in previous decisions, the Chief Justice ignores the corruption he is turning loose in America’s election system.”

    “In this decision, the Court opens another loophole by allowing our political parties to be further corrupted by big-money contributions from special interests. The party and Political Action Committee systems now become a huge funnel for corrupting elected officials across the country,” MacNamara said.

    “The McCutcheon decision simply means more power for big money, more corruption for the rest of us. The Roberts Court is saying that big money is worth more than the voices of individual citizens,” concluded MacNamara.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

     

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin hearing cases in its fall term next month. On the second day of arguments, a case that has been labeled the “next Citizens United will be heard by the Justices. The case, McCutcheon v.