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Corporate contribution ban left intact by US Supreme Court

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The U.S. Supreme Court left intact Iowa’s ban on corporate political donations, as the justices declined a chance to extend last week’s ruling striking down federal contribution limits.

The justices today rejected an appeal by Iowa Right to Life Committee Inc., a nonprofit corporation that said the state measure violates its rights to free speech and equal protection.

The law bars campaign contributions by both for-profit and nonprofit corporations, as well as banks, savings and loans, credit unions and insurance companies. A St. Louis-based federal appeals court upheld the measure last year.

The Supreme Court had been holding the group’s appeal while it resolved the challenge to the federal contribution caps.

The high court’s 5-4 ruling last week concerned the speech rights of individual contributors, rather than corporate donors. The case centered on a federal law that capped the total amount a single person could give to candidates, parties and political committees to $123,200 in a two-year election cycle.

The court said that restrictions could validly target only “quid pro quo” corruption — that is, donations aimed at extracting specific political favors.

Iowa Right to Life argued that the state law also violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause because it doesn’t bar labor union contributions to candidates.

The case is Iowa Right to Life Committee v. Tooker, 13-407.