INDIANAPOLIS– The Indiana Right to Life Victory Fund says the state’s election laws could be infringing on its First Amendment rights to solicit and receive corporate contributions as an independent expenditure political action committee, more commonly known as a “SUPERPAC.”
The fund, along with the private company Sarkes Tarzian LLC, brought a case against the Indiana Secretary of State and the Indiana Election Commission in 2021—a case in which the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday.
“All the courts agree you can’t limit corporate contributions to an independent-expenditure-only PAC…this statute does that,” James Bopp JR., counsel for the plaintiffs, argued to the court.
The defense argued the state statute does not apply to SUPERPACs.
“This court should find that SUPERPACs do not fit within the definition of a PAC, the statutory definition of a PAC, and that therefore, corporate donations to them are not prohibited or limited by Indiana’s election code,” Kyle Hunter with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office said.
However, according to the Indiana Supreme Court, the term “SUPERPAC” does not appear at any point in current law, meaning whether or not they fall under the same rules as PACs is ambiguous.
”Donations to PACs must designate a candidate or a committee,” IU Law Professor Jody Madeira said. “The problem is that neither of these laws address SUPERPACs.”
Madeira said prior courts determined the fund had no standing since no one sought to prosecute the group under the current law. However, the fund argues that could change in the future under new leadership.
”The Victory Fund’s like, ‘Well, we’re not going to trust just word, we want to get a legal determination,'” Madeira said.
Madeira said the Indiana Supreme Court is expected to make a decision as to whether or not SUPERPACs fall under the same rules as PACs before the end of this year.