U.S. Court Panel Forbids Foreign Money in American Elections

Friday, August 12, 2011
Benjamin Bluman
In an attempt to piggyback on the landmark Citizens United ruling, two foreign nationals tried unsuccessfully in federal court to force open American elections to overseas political contributions.
Benjamin Bluman a Canadian citizen, and Dr. Asenath Steiman, a dual citizen of Canada and Israel, sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to overturn its prohibition on foreign residents pouring money into U.S. campaigns. The plaintiffs claim that the federal regulation constitutes a violation of their right to free speech—which was the basis for the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens ruling to throw out campaign contribution limits on corporations and unions.
But a three-judge panel of the DC district court didn’t buy the argument, and granted the FEC’s motion to dismiss the case.
The judges ruled that it “is fundamental to the definition of our national political community that foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in, and thus may be excluded from, activities of democratic self-government.”
They added that “spending money to contribute to a candidate or party or to expressly advocate for or against the election of a political candidate is participating in the process of democratic self-government.”
Bluman and Steinman aren’t giving up their fight. They reportedly intend to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Bluman is a supporter of gay marriage and wants to support the re-election campaign of Barack Obama. Steiman is a conservative who opposes Obama’s health care plan and wants to support whoever runs against him.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Unlimited Foreign Money: Coming to an Election Near You? (by Ben Freemen, Project on Government Oversight)
Benjamin Bluman and Asenath Steinman v. Federal Election Commission (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia) (pdf)


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