Campaign Finance

First Opinion by James Ho (a Recently Appointed Fifth Circuit Judge)

It's a dissent from denial of rehearing en banc, joined by Judge Edith Jones, in a case that upheld a $350 cap for contributions to Austin City Council races.

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Very interesting—I've long known Jim and admired his work, and this opinion (Zimmerman v. City of Austin) shows his qualities well. I myself am more open to campaign contribution limits than he (or his former boss, Justice Thomas) is; I explain my thinking briefly in this article, which shows me to be one of the few people who thinks Buckley v. Valeo's upholding of sufficiently high contribution limits but striking down of independent expenditure limits is basically right as a constitutional matter. But the dissent makes a strong case that $350 limits are unconstitutionally low, given Randall v. Sorrell and notwithstanding Nixon v. Shrink Missouri PAC.

A funny coincidence: The panel opinion, which Judges Ho and Jones would have had the court reconsider en banc, was joined by Jim's other former judicial boss, Judge Jerry Smith.