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Protecting Every Group’s Participation in Politics

Tennesseans for Sensible Election Laws v. Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance

Case Status

Date Filed

August 13, 2019

Last Step

Victory! The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that Tennessee’s discriminatory rule violates the First Amendment.

Next Step

Case Overview

A Tennessee law bans all political groups from giving money to candidates in the ten days before an election—but it makes an exception for political parties, which can still give money as usual, right through election day.

That’s wrong. The First Amendment is supposed to protect the equal right of every person and every group to speak and to try to influence the outcomes of elections.

It’s especially harmful to suppress select groups’ participation in politics in the days immediately before an election, when the public is paying the most attention to politics. That not only deprives voters of information; it also gives incumbent officeholders—who tend to raise their money early in an election cycle—an unfair political advantage.

The Goldwater Institute and the Liberty Justice Center have filed an amicus brief asking the Tennessee Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court decision that rightly struck down Tennessee’s rule for violating both the First Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution’s even stronger free-speech guarantee.

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