Home>Campaigns>N.J. bank trade groups may now make political contributions, 3rd Circuit rules

Judge Joseph Greenaway of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. (Photo: Seton Hall University Law School).

N.J. bank trade groups may now make political contributions, 3rd Circuit rules

Overturns part of a century-old state law signed by Gov. Woodrow Wilson

By David Wildstein, September 29 2022 11:53 am

Banking trade groups can make campaign contributions after the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a state law prohibiting banks from providing financial support to candidates di not apply to trade groups.

“Trade associations are less likely to pose a risk of quid pro quo corruption because their member banks have varying interests, whereas individual banks have uniform interests,” the three-judge panel found.

But the New Jersey Bankers Association, which is seeking to make independent expenditures and contributions,  did not have standing to challenge the law on behalf of individuals banks.

The appellate court rejected a bid to declare the New Jersey law as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Because we can resolve the case on statutory grounds— namely, by interpreting the statute as inapplicable to trade associations of banks—we decline to reach the First Amendment issues, the opinion written by Judge Joseph Greenaway said.  “ In doing so, we nonetheless provide complete relief.”

The original law was signed over 110 years ago by Gov. Woodrow Wilson.

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