Tammy Holland lives with her husband and their teenage son on a farm in rural Colorado. She cares deeply about her son’s education. In September 2015, she took out two ads in her local newspaper to alert readers to an upcoming school-board election. Incumbent board members didn’t appreciate the publicity and sued Tammy—twice—for her simple act of civic engagement.
This was possible because Colorado outsourced enforcement of its campaign-finance laws to the public at large. Any private individual could have their political opponents hauled into court merely by alleging that they violated the state’s campaign-finance laws. In 2016, Tammy teamed up with the Institute for Justice to challenge this abuse-prone system in federal court. In June 2018, the court struck down the state’s private-enforcement system as a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Tammy and all Coloradans are now free to express their political opinions without fear of being sued into silence.