Supreme Court refuses to hear Alaska case

Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2000

ANCHORAGE - The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to not hear an appeal of an Alaska Supreme Court ruling upholding the state's restrictive campaign-finance law.

The court on Tuesday declined a petition filed by the Alaska Civil Liberties Union to review the law's constitutionality.

The state's high court last April revived most of the law, which earlier had been struck down by an Anchorage judge.

The law, among other things, placed restrictions on how much individuals and groups can give to campaigns, banned contributions by corporations and labor unions, limited lobbyists to contributions only in their legislative district, and prohibited candidates from giving campaign money to other candidates.

The Legislature passed the law in 1996, and the next year it was challenged on constitutional grounds by the Alaska Civil Liberties Union.

The group maintained the $500 annual limit on individual contributions was too small and abridged free-speech rights.

In 1998, Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton threw out the law, saying parts of it violated free-speech protections. Wolverton said the unconstitutional aspects could not be separated from the legal ones.

The Alaska Supreme Court agreed that some parts of the law were unconstitutional, but it disagreed that the entire law had to be scrapped as a result.

The justices discarded a provision in the law that blocked legislators and their challengers from raising funds during the legislative session.

Office seekers were also allowed to accept contributions up to 18 months before a primary or general election. The 1996 law allowed candidates to collect campaign money only in election years.

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