Florida Political Speech

Broward Coalition v. Browning
Taking on Florida’s Political Speech Police

In May of 2009, the Insitute for Justice secured a federal court decision striking down Florida's so-called "electioneering communications" law.  That law made it illegal for any group to merely mention a candidate or ballot issue, let alone express an opinion, without registering with the state as an “electioneering communications organization."  Once registered, groups had to appoint a campaign treasurer, make regular reports, record expenditures and disclose all donors—even those whose contributions were not intended to support political speech.

There were almost 100 possible violations of the law, and failure to comply could have led to fines and jail time. The time and money required to navigate this bureaucratic red tape was too much for many citizen groups and non-profits, leaving them no choice but to stay silent. That is why the Broward Coalition, University of Florida College Libertarians and National Taxpayers Union joined with IJ to challenge Florida’s law as a violation of First Amendment rights.


Essential Background


Backgrounder: Taking on Florida’s Political Speech Police: Challenging Campaign Finance Laws That Create a Statewide “No Speech Zone”

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Latest Release: Final Victory for First Amendment Rights in Florida: State Declines to Appeal Ruling Striking Down  “Electioneering Communications” Law (June 29, 2009)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Download: Institute for Justice Complaint

Launch Release: Taking on Florida’s Political Speech Police: Federal Lawsuit Challenges Campaign Finance Laws That Create a Statewide “No Speech Zone” (October 8, 2008)


Download: Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Download: Order Granting Summary Judgment

Download: Order Granting Preliminary Injunction (October 29, 2008).

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit: 

October 8, 2008

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida



District Court Victory

Next Key Date:



Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: First Amendment Victory: Federal Court Strikes Down Florida’s “Electioneering Communications” Law (May 26, 2009)

Campaign Finance Red Tape:
Strangling Free Speech & Political Debate

Release: First Amendment Victory: Federal Court Suspends Florida’s “Electioneering Communications” Law (October 29, 2008)


Disclosure Costs: Unintended Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Release: Citizen Groups Ask Federal Court to Suspend Florida’s “Electioneering Communications” Law Before Election Day (October 14, 2008)

Article: Unlocking Political Speech in Florida; Liberty & Law (June 2009)

Article: Taking on Florida’s Political Speech Police; Liberty & Law (December 2008)

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