Minnesota’s laws are particularly interesting and potentially divisive because, following the seminal Citizens United v. FEC decision, they are perhaps the most extensive of any state disclosure laws in effect to be deemed unconstitutional. This Note considers the narrow question of whether, when viewed through the lens of political reality, Minnesota’s disclosure laws regulating independent expenditures, particularly one requiring ongoing periodic reporting, cross the line from a mere administrative cost to a burden chilling the free speech of associations. Part II of this Note first examines the principles of disclosure and the legislative regulation of elections through disclosure throughout United States history alongside Supreme Court precedent interpreting those laws. This leads into Minnesota pushing back against Citizens United by subsequently enacting several disclosure laws. Part III argues that the majority in Minnesota Citizens incorrectly held that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in a challenge that the laws were unconstitutional. In its quest to protect all associations from speech regulation, the majority overstated the actual burden of these disclosure laws out of fear they could hypothetically cause hesitation in spending money as political speech. Such a decision does not account for political theory and reality, and the truth is that the effect of such a ruling is an elimination of one of the few remaining mechanisms to regulate elections. Part IV concludes by emphasizing that the majority was mistaken in its narrow approach to this issue and that these disclosure laws should have been upheld.
Asher R. Ball,
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Inc. v. Swanson and Disclosure Burdens: Does Getting Corporations to Talk Suppress Their Speech?,
91 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol91/iss3/5