Political Law

BakerHostetler’s Political Law team guides clients through a constantly changing landscape of legal challenges. We help our clients comply with complex state and federal campaign finance regulations, protect the interests of candidates on Election Day, counsel members of Congress on ethics and financial disclosure requirements, and litigate redistricting and Voting Rights Act cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Our deep bench enables the Political Law team to assist clients at every stage of the political process.

Corporate and Nonprofit Campaign Finance and Ethics

We work closely with our corporate and nonprofit clients to interpret the interlocking system of federal, state and local regulations to create successful and compliant solutions to achieve client goals. The Political Law team routinely advises national party committees and state parties on campaign finance compliance and election law matters. In addition, our team represents elected officials and candidates at all levels of government, and advises independent political committees and super PACs.

Our clients consist of business entities and their connected political committees as well as 501(c) entities, including major trade associations and social welfare organizations. Beyond federal compliance issues, we have the unique experience of advising national organizations and corporations on their involvement with state and local campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics rules. We have also worked overseas to represent international civil and political organizations, and we have consulted on elections for multiple national election systems.

Our team also litigates challenges to campaign finance regulations around the country and represents individuals and organizations in civil and criminal enforcement matters. 

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Redistricting and Voting Rights Act

Our team provides effective, efficient and economical representation in even the most politically contentious and legally complex redistricting and Voting Rights Act matters. Because each case presents unique legal and factual issues distinct from other types of litigation, our team provides real-time counsel at every stage of the redistricting process to help clients cope with tight deadlines, adhere to strict or ambiguous legal requirements, interpret copious demographic and political data, and manage political tensions inherent in the redistricting process. Our team advises and works with state legislators and map developers – before the census data is collected – to help them avoid common redistricting pitfalls and anticipate likely challenges. We brief clients on the traditional redistricting criteria valued by courts, and our team helps clients understand current requirements imposed on state legislatures by the ever-shifting landscape of statutory, regulatory and judge-made law. Our guidance decreases litigation risk and, if litigation does arise, increases our clients’ odds of success.

Our leading litigation team has served as principal counsel in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Virginia, and we have helped clients prevail in the U.S. Supreme Court, before three-judge panels in U.S. district courts, in numerous state supreme courts, and in trial and appellate courts around the country.

Recounts and Election Contests

In every election cycle since the mid-70s, our team has organized and led Election Day activities for secretaries of state, members of state House leadership, congressional candidates and national party committees. Our lawyers have been involved in a recount, election contest matter or other election-related matter in nearly every state, and our team provides a unique perspective from our experience as principal counsel on statewide contests and recounts in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington.

Select Experience

  • Represented intervening minority plaintiffs in the redistricting case Georgia v. Ashcroft and prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court after oral argument.
  • Represented client regarding reapportionment of legislative districts in Georgia in Larios v. Cox. The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the judgment of a three-judge panel in favor of our client.
  • Argued that the Ohio Constitution does not mandate political neutrality in the reapportionment of House and Senate districts in Wilson v. Cox,. Ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the Ohio legislative redistricting plan after oral argument.
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Experience

  • Represented intervening minority plaintiffs in the redistricting case Georgia v. Ashcroft and prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court after oral argument.
  • Represented client regarding reapportionment of legislative districts in Georgia in Larios v. Cox. The U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the judgment of a three-judge panel in favor of our client.
  • Argued that the Ohio Constitution does not mandate political neutrality in the reapportionment of House and Senate districts in Wilson v. Cox,. Ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the Ohio legislative redistricting plan after oral argument.
  • Defended the 2011 redistricting plan drawn by the Virginia House of Delegates against claims of racial gerrymandering in the case brought before a three-judge panel in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections,. The case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, and oral argument will be heard in fall 2016.
  • Represented the Arizona secretary of state before the U.S. Supreme Court in litigation concerning the one-person, one-vote principle in legislative redistricting in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
  • Represented the Virginia House of Delegates against a claim brought by plaintiffs alleging that the 2011 redistricting plans drawn by both the Virginia House and Senate violate the Virginia Constitution’s requirement that all districts be drawn to be compact.
  • Obtained an injunction barring a state from requiring certain social welfare organizations that engaged in political activity to register as political committees.
  • Obtained an injunction barring a state from banning coordination between candidates and unaffiliated organizations concerning issue advocacy.
  • As special counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, assisted in drafting or amending nearly all major federal election laws of the last generation, including the Federal Contested Election Act, the Help America Vote Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the Federal Election Campaign Act, and the National Voter Registration Act. 

Key Contacts