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September 9th, 2010

Iowa Right to Life Sues Iowa For Violating First Amendment Right To Produce Political Ads, Make Contributions

Iowa Right to Life, Inc. wants to be able to make contributions to political parties and/or candidates, and also produce political ads supporting the candidates it likes. The First Amendment says it has the right to do these things. But Iowa law forbids it.

Iowa says that corporations cannot make political ads without a PAC, which requires burdensome registration, record-keeping, and reporting requirements. But the Supreme Court recently ruled in a case called Citizens United that corporations have a First Amendment right to make political ads, without having to create a PAC. So Iowa requires the very thing the Supreme Court said is unconstitutional.

Iowa also bans political contributions from corporations. But other types of associations— such as unincorporated labor unions—are free to contribute to candidates. This treats corporations differently than everybody else, and prevents them from making contributions they want to make.

As a result Iowa Right to Life, Inc. filed suit in federal court yesterday, asking the Judge to strike these unconstitutional laws.

James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for Iowa Right to Life, stated, “The Supreme Court said in Citizens United that corporations have free-speech rights. Iowa’s attempt to subvert the Supreme Court and burden the speech of corporations is unconstitutional. And, the Constitution guarantees that there will be equal protection under the law. The way Iowa singles out corporations violates the Equal Protection guarantee.”

The case is before the Honorable Robert Pratt, District Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. The case number is 4:10-cv-00416-RP-TJS, and is known as IRTL v. Miller. The complaint may be viewed at

James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech, former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society, and was recently recognized as the Republican Lawyer of the Year by the National Republican Lawyers Association.

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The Iowa Republican

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