Friday, June 04, 2004
In 1974, the people of Albuquerque voted to amend their city charter to include spending limits for candidates for city office. They went about their merry way, enjoying the fruits of democracy until 1997, when a losing candidate in the mayoral race sued over the limits. He soon withdrew the case, but it was just the first of several suits to come challenging the consitutionality of the limits.
In 2001, in Homans v. City of Albuquerque, a federal judge upheld the spending limits as a consitutional means of preserving the public's faith in democracy and reducing the appearance of corruption in elections. On appeal, the 10th Circuit found that the Supreme Court case Buckley v. Valeo (see here and here for past posts on Buckley) prohibited any limits on spending.
The case is still active after another positive ruling from the district court and even after a negative ruling from the 10th Circuit, in large part to the determination and efforts of the National Voting Rights Institute. Check out NVRI's website to find out more about their efforts to undo Buckley's ill effects on democracy.