by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Of all the attacks on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, perhaps the silliest is that he would open the door to foreign money in U.S. elections. How silly? The basis for this claim is an opinion that Judge Kavanaugh wrote upholding a law that prohibits non-resident aliens from making political contributions or expenditures.
Back in 2010, two Canadians residing in the U.S. on temporary visas wanted to contribute to U.S. political candidates — one to Democrats, the other to Republicans. However, federal law says that only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents — that is, “green card” holders — can do that.
Plaintiffs Benjamin Bluman and Asenath Steiman argued that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission undermined the constitutionality of that law. …
… If Judge Kavanaugh thought that the Constitution protected the right of non-resident aliens to make political expenditures in U.S. elections, Bluman was a perfect case to strike down that law. The plaintiffs supported mainstream Republican and Democratic candidates. They were from a nation long allied with the U.S., not from geopolitical rivals such as China or Russia. No less an authority than the president had proclaimed that the ban on foreign spending was now open to question. They sought to make small contributions and expenditures — no more than $100 each in three or four different races. There was no chance that these small contributions would “corrupt” the legislature, the traditional justification for limits on campaign contributions and spending.
Yet, in a thorough, scholarly opinion for a unanimous panel, Judge Kavanaugh upheld the statute banning foreign contributions.