Private Enforcement In the Spotlight

IJ’s Colorado Supreme Court win is just the tip of the First Amendment iceberg in the Centennial State.

Unlike every other state in the U.S., Colorado outsources enforcement of its campaign finance laws wholesale to “any person.” That system is exploited relentlessly by politicians and their allies, who harness the full power of the state to target their ideological opponents. In the words of the state’s most prolific complainant, the system is a tool for waging “political guerrilla legal warfare” against disfavored viewpoints. Even the state’s courts have admitted that “if political partisans were barred from filing complaints, very few complaints would ever be filed.”

This abuse-prone system is the focus of a separate First Amendment case IJ has been pursuing since 2016. IJ teamed up with Tammy Holland, the small-town mom who was sued twice by incumbent politicians for speaking out about politics in Colorado. Tammy is confronting Colorado’s private-enforcement system head-on, with a First Amendment challenge in federal court. As her case explains, the state cannot police political speech by authorizing “any person” to haul their enemies into court. Keep an eye out for developments in Tammy’s case as the year goes on.

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