RNC Tees Up Next Big Supreme Court Campaign Finance Case

Posted March 26, 2010 at 6:31pm

The Republican National Committee will ask the Supreme Court to lift ‘soft money’ contribution bans, teeing up the next major high court challenge to federal campaign finance laws.

“The very core of the First Amendment protects the ability of political parties not only to nominate and elect candidates at every level, but also to engage in discussions about public policy issues of national importance,” RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement on Friday evening. “As a matter of course, we plan to appeal this matter to the Supreme Court.”

Steele’s statement came hours after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed an RNC challenge to unlimited soft money bans, a key plank of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act. In its decision, the three-judge panel foreshadowed that the Supreme Court will eventually take up the issue of unlimited corporate and labor union contributions to the RNC, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other political party committees.

“In due course, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to clarify or refine this,” the three-judge panel wrote.

Former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson will represent the RNC in the case. In a statement, Olson said that “for more than 200 years political parties have played a central role in American democracy.”

“Today’s decision leaves special-interest groups and labor unions with more power to influence our elections than political parties,” Olson said. “We will demonstrate to the Supreme Court that the First Amendment does not tolerate that result.”