Authors of last year’s campaign finance law have asked a three-judge panel to stay its decision regarding the landmark Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act until the Supreme Court can rule.
“It is our belief the stay is necessary to prevent further confusion and uncertainty about operative campaign finance law,” Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said. “This confusion was exacerbated by the court’s delayed ruling.”
In supporting the stay, which would uphold the law as written for now, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said candidates need some clarity for the 2004 campaigns.
Meanwhile, the judicial panel issued an order Thursday asking that any motions for a stay be filed no later than noon Friday. Oppositions to those motions must be filed by noon Monday and replies are due by 12 p.m. on May 14.
Now, candidates do not know if they should follow the law or the judges’ ruling, and the possible granting of other stays — such as one requested by the National Rifle Association — would only further complicate matters, he said.
The NRA has petitioned the U.S. District Court’s three-judge panel to stay just the provision regarding electioneering communications.
Sens. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) successfully inserted into the law a provision stating that ads running close to an election must be paid for with hard money and disclose who bought the ad — but the court tossed that definition in favor of a broader definition of “electioneering communications.”
Despite the fact that they are asking the court to stay its decision, the authors said they are pleased with the preliminary ruling and aimed to dispel reports that opponents came out ahead.
“Eighty to 90 percent of the law was upheld but that 10 percent troubles us dearly,” Shays said.
“We got the lion’s share of what we were looking for,” Rep. Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) added.
Several Members questioned the Federal Election Commission’s commitment to ridding the system of corruption and closing loopholes.
McCain said he would introduce legislation to change the FEC.
“It would be nice to have people on the FEC who believe in the law,” Shays said, adding that part of the court’s ruling gives the FEC room “to work its mischief.”
Members of the highly criticized watchdog agency met behind closed doors Thursday afternoon to consider their own next move. FEC lawyers, who defended the law in court, may choose to file their own motion for a stay, but no final decision had been reached as of Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, GOP attorney James Bopp filed two motions for injunction pending appeal with the court today. He is asking the court to enjoin the “truncated definition that Judge [Richard] Leon has fashioned,” Bopp explained in a brief interview.
Bopp, who is representing 10 clients under the auspices of the James Madison Center for Free Speech, also asked the court to extend an injunction to any similarly situated entities, and to extend its judgement on any injunction beyond just the District of Columbia.
Bopp said he made that request because the FEC has adopted an approach in the past that only applied court rulings within the jurisdiction where they are rendered.
While Bopp and others fight the changes to the electioneering communications parts of the law, Congressional authors said they are determined to make their soft-money ban stick, in spite of the court’s initial ruling.
Speaking to reports that both parties have begun to crank up the soft-money-making machine again, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) warned against such moves.
“The party that stays away from soft money will do better,” he said.
McCain’s response was more threatening.
“Donors, be careful,” he said, indicating that those who give soft money could find themselves in violation of the law.