The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York dismissed a lawsuit challenging an old Connecticut policy that bars private attorneys hired by the state from donating to candidates for state attorney general.
The appeals court found that the challenge was moot because the policy hasn’t been enforced since 2002 and was eliminated in 2006. In 2005 the General Assembly adopted a public campaign financing system, which eliminates contributions to any candidate from any state contractor.
The lawsuit filed by Martha Dean, a Republican candidate for attorney general in 2002, claimed the policy deprived her of “needed financing for her campaign as a result of willing contributors withholding contributions for fear of suffering the loss of the State’s business.”
About a week before the 2002 election incumbent, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, lifted the ban on campaign contributions pending a court ruling on the dispute. Blumenthal had upheld the ban between 1995 and 2002.
After winning re-election, Blumenthal moved to dismiss Dean’s U.S. District Court complaint. And approximately four years passed between Blumenthal’s motion to dismiss and the district court’s eventual ruling.
In September 2006, the district court granted Blumenthal’s motion to dismiss.
Last week the 2nd Circuit ruled that “Because the challenged contractual language has not been enforced in over six years and could not reasonably be expected to be reimplemented, we hold that Dean’s requested relief of a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and a cease-and-desist order are moot.”
“We also hold that appellee Richard Blumenthal is entitled to qualified immunity from Dean’s claim for damages because there was no clearly established right under the First Amendment to receive campaign contributions during the relevant period. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court,” the appellate panel concluded.