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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
February 22, 2021, Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California; July 30, 2021, Filed
CALLAHAN, Circuit Judge:
We must decide whether an Alaska law regulating campaign contributions violates the First Amendment. At issue are Alaska's limits on contributions made by individuals to candidates, individuals to election-related groups, and political parties to candidates, and also its limit on the total funds a candidate may receive from out-of-state residents. The district court upheld [*816] all four provisions against a constitutional challenge by three individuals and a subdivision of the Alaska Republican Party. See Thompson v. Hebdon, 909 F.3d 1027, 1032-33 (9th Cir. 2018). In a prior opinion, we affirmed except as to the nonresident limit. Id. at 1031. Plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari. See Thompson v. Hebdon, 140 S. Ct. 348, 351, 205 L. Ed. 2d 245 (2019). The Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion granting the petition, vacating our judgment, and remanding the case for us to "revisit" whether the individual-to-candidate and individual-to-group limits "are consistent with [the Supreme Court's] First Amendment precedents," in particular Randall v. Sorrell, 548 U.S. 230, 126 S. Ct. 2479, 165 L. Ed. 2d 482 (2006). Id. Following remand, we received supplemental briefs from the parties and an amicus, and we heard oral argument. We now issue [**8] a revised opinion. Our resolution of the challenges to the political-party-to-candidate and nonresident limits remains the same, affirming the district court's decision upholding the former but reversing the decision upholding the latter. But we now reverse the district court's decision upholding the individual-to-candidate and individual-to-group limits.
Alaska has long regulated campaign contributions to political candidates. In 1974, Alaska enacted a statute prohibiting individuals from contributing more than $1,000 annually to a candidate. See Alaska v. Alaska Civil Liberties Union, 978 P.2d 597, 601 (Alaska 1999). In 1996, the Alaska Legislature enacted a revised campaign finance law "to restore the public's trust in the electoral process and to foster good government." 1996 Alaska Sess. Laws ch. 48 § 1(b). Among other things, the law lowered the annual limit on contributions by individuals to a candidate from $1,000 to $500 and set a $500 limit on annual contributions by individuals to a group that is not a political party. Id. §§ 10-11. The law also set aggregate limits on the amount candidates could accept from nonresidents of Alaska. In 2003, the Alaska legislature revised the 1996 law by raising the individual-to-candidate and individual-to-group limits from $500 to $1,000. 2003 Alaska Sess. Laws ch. 108, §§ 8-10.
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7 F.4th 811 *; 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 22653 **
DAVID THOMPSON; AARON DOWNING; JIM CRAWFORD, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. HEATHER HEBDON, in Her Official Capacity as the Executive Director of the Alaska Public Offices Commission; RICHARD STILLIE; IRENE CATALONE; ANNE HELZER; ROBERT CLIFT; and JIM MCDERMOTT, in their official capacities as members of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Defendants-Appellees.
Subsequent History: Motion granted by, Transferred by Thompson v. Hebdon, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 34992 (9th Cir. Alaska, Nov. 24, 2021)
Prior History: [**1] On Remand From the United States Supreme Court. D.C. No. 3:15-cv-00218-TMB.
Thompson v. Dauphinais, 217 F. Supp. 3d 1023, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154430, 2016 WL 6602419 (D. Alaska, Nov. 7, 2016)Thompson v. Hebdon, 909 F.3d 1027, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33235, 2018 WL 6175095 (9th Cir. Alaska, Nov. 27, 2018)
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