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Supreme Court Sets CFR Oral Arguments for Sept. 8

Responding to requests from Congress and others for an expedited hearing of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission — the most notable campaign finance case since Buckley v. Valeo — the Supreme Court on Thursday announced it will hear four hours of oral arguments Sept. 8.

The date for the expedited hearing — which will take place an entire month before the high court officially begins its October term — means that lawyers involved with the landmark case will be busy working on their briefs this summer, while justices vacation and otherwise enjoy their break.

The high court opted for a three-round briefing scheme, with the original plaintiffs in the case, including Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), filing their briefs by 3 p.m. July 8, and defendants filing their reply briefs Aug. 5.

Plaintiffs may submit reply briefs Aug. 21, approximately two and a half weeks before oral arguments commence at 10 a.m. on Sept. 8.

“We’re very happy with this schedule,” Trevor Potter, an attorney in the case and general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, said today. “The court’s put us on a fast track to getting the campaign rules resolved by the end of the year.”

Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer, who supports the new campaign finance law, echoed those sentiments.

“We’re pleased. We’re glad the court has set this early date, which should help ensure that a decision on the campaign finance rules is issued this year,” he said.

In an attached memo from the Supreme Court’s Merits Cases Clerk, lawyers involved in the case were instructed that the length of their briefs comply with those “provided for in the Court’s Rules.”

However the memo noted that “longer briefs may be allowed if combinations of parties agree to submit common briefs on particular issues; and shorter briefs may be prescribed for certain issues.”

The lawyers involved in the case were also instructed to submit a coordinated proposal to the Clerk of the Court by noon, June 10, that identifies issues upon which two or more parties can present a common position and proposes a page limit on the portion of briefs addressing each such issue on behalf of the parties with a common position.

Moreover, they were asked to identify those issues where there is no agreement along with “suggestions for brief pages necessary to address them.”

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