Chancey v. Illinois State Board of Elections

Chancey v. ISBE challenged two Illinois campaign finance laws that illegally placed restrictions on only certain Americans in specific races.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that “the First Amendment stands against… restrictions distinguishing among different speakers, allowing speech by some but not others.” But two new Illinois campaign finance laws place restrictions on only certain Americans in specific races. These restrictions are illegal.

In the last year, Illinois has enacted two bills that restrict contributions only in judicial campaigns by, among other things, prohibiting out-of-state donations to candidates and placing arbitrary limits on contributions to independent expenditure committees.

Matt Chancey, a former Illinois resident, Fair Courts America, and Restoration PAC wish to speak through their contributions in upcoming Illinois judicial elections. Illinois’ limits on their ability to support judicial candidates violate their free speech rights provided by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They have filed a federal lawsuit with representation from attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center, a national, nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights.

Senate Bill 536, enacted in Nov. 2021, prohibits candidates for Supreme Court, Appellate Court, or Circuit Court from accepting “contributions from any out-of-state person.” The government cannot place restrictions on one group of people—in this instance “out-of-state persons.” This is a clear violation of the First Amendment right of these Americans to support or oppose Illinois judicial candidates.

Enacted in May 2022, House Bill 0716 says any independent expenditure committee to support or oppose a judicial candidate “may not accept contributions from any single person in a cumulative amount that exceeds $500,000 in any election cycle.” It also requires that any amount received that exceeds $500,000 must be immediately forwarded to the State Treasurer who will deposit the funds into the State Treasury. Only committees for judicial candidates are restricted by Illinois law. Similar groups established to support any other candidate may receive an unlimited amount of money from any person.


Jeffrey Schwab

Jeffrey M. Schwab

Jeffrey M. Schwab is a Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, where he litigates cases to protect the rights to free speech, economic liberty, private property and other Constitutional rights in both federal and state courts across the country.

Riley Stephens

Reilly Stephens

Reilly Stephens is a Counsel at Liberty Justice Center where he assists in cases to protect the rights to free speech, economic liberty, private property, and other Constitutional rights in courts across the country.

Case Press Releases

Case In The News

Cook County Record
May 19, 2023

(Cook County Record)—With a Democratic supermajority on the state Supreme Court now in place, potentially for decades to come, Illinois state officials have given up their efforts to defend a state law that critics said was unconstitutionally designed to restrict the flow of money to campaigns and committees to aid...

Courthouse News Service
May 18, 2023

(Courthouse News Service)—Conservative political action committees scored a win in Illinois on Thursday, when an Obama-appointed federal judge in the Windy City struck down two of the state’s recently enacted judicial election reform laws. The first reform, enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in November 2021, barred non-Illinois residents from...

Cook County Record
October 17, 2022

(Cook County Record)—A federal judge has blocked Illinois from enforcing its law forbidding anyone from outside Illinois from contributing to the campaigns of those seeking election as judges, as the federal judge indicated the law appears to be based on little more than Illinois Democrats’ desire to maintain control of...

Chicago Tribune
October 17, 2022
With less than a month to go before voters determine the balance of power on the Illinois Supreme Court, a federal judge has temporarily blocked provisions in two recent Democratic-backed state laws that limit contributions in judicial races....



Chancey v. Illinois State Board of Elections


August 3, 2022


United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division




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