The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the state's ban on political donations by lobbyists.
The plaintiff in the case, Preston v Leake et al, is Sarah Preston, state lobbyist for the ACLU. Preston argued that the state's 2006 ban on political donations by lobbyists infringed on her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech and free association.
Preston argued the ban was overly broad, preventing her from contributing to any state candidate, even those she isn't lobbying. "Barring lobbyists from ever being able to give even one dollar to a candidate we believe in, just because of our chosen profession, is unfair, unreasonable, and unconstitutional," Preston said in 2008, when the suit was filed.
In a ruling released today, the court sided with the state against the ACLU, upholding an earlier District Court decision.
"We hold that the statute is constitutional, both facially and as applied to Preston, as a valid exercise of North Carolina’s legislative prerogative to address potential corruption and the appearance of corruption in the State," the court wrote.
We've asked the ACLU for comment and will update here when we hear back. No word yet on whether the group will appeal the ruling.
Update: ACLU state legal director Katy Parker said they're "disappointed" by the court's ruling. She says the group hasn't yet decided whether to appeal the case.