CLC Update April 2, 2010

CLC Staff
Apr 2, 2010
  1. U.S. District Court Upholds Soft Money Bans in RNC v. FEC
  2. CLC Associate Council Criticizes Decision
  3. CLC Executive Director Addresses NCSL Redistricting Conference
  4. CLC Associate Legal Counsel Speaks at North Carolina Central University School of Law


District Court Upholds Soft Money Bans In RNC v. FEC

On March 26, 2010, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its decision in RNC v. FEC, upholding the soft money ban provisions enacted in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. These provisions barred the national parties from raising or spending soft money, and prohibited state parties from raising and spending soft money for federal election activities.

Because the provisions were upheld in 2003 in McConnell, the RNC challenged them only as applied to the funding of certain party activities. The RNC complaint listed nine activities, including party spending on "grassroots lobbying" and issue ads, which would have eviscerated the soft money ban.

In a statement, Associate Legal Counsel, Paul S. Ryan, credited the District Court with recognizing that the "Supreme Court's 2003 McConnell decision is still the law of the land when it comes to the ban on soft money contributions to political party committees", and that the Citizens United decision "did not address the constitutionality of the soft money ban."

The Legal Center serves as co-counsel to the congressional sponsors of BCRA who are participating as amici curiae in the litigation: Senator McCain(R-AZ), Senator Feingold (D-WI), former Representative Marty Meehan (D-MA) and former Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT).

On April 2, 2010, the RNC filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court.


Legal Center Criticizes Decision

On March 26, the en banc D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling v. FEC striking down federal contribution limits to political committees that make only independent expenditures.

Associate Legal Counsel, Paul S. Ryan, issued a statement criticizing the recent decision as demonstrating "a judicial lack of understanding of the realities of the way corruption threatens our elections." Ryan said the decision, like the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in January, "ignore[s] history and the reality that independent expenditures can and do corrupt, buy access to, and curry favor with Members of Congress, and residents of the White House." The statement went on to condemn the premise that the only form of true corruption is the literal quid pro quo of a bribe for a vote as "simply untethered from political reality."

The Legal Center did however commend the court's strong endorsement of the requirements that groups seeking to influence elections register as political committees and regularly report and disclose their donors.

The Legal Center, along with Democracy 21, filed amici briefs with the Court of Appeals. The briefs chronicled the role played by 527 groups in the 2004 and 2006 elections, describing how such groups were closely tied to candidates and party committees and often served as "effective conduits for donors desiring to corrupt federal candidates and officeholders."


Executive Director Addresses NCSL Redistricting Conference

Campaign Legal Center Executive Director and Director of Litigation Gerry Hebert attended and spoke at a redistricting conference sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference was held in Austin, Texas from March 25-28, 2010. Mr. Hebert's panel discussion focused on the bailout (Section 4) and preclearance (Section 5) provisions of the Voting Rights Act.


Associate Legal Counsel Speaks At North Carolina Central University School of Law

The Legal Center's Associate Legal Counsel Tara Malloy spoke on March 26 at a Law Review Symposium at North Carolina Central University. Malloy sat on a panel entitled "Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Affecting Voting Rights & Redistricting." She discussed recent Supreme Court cases, including Bartlett v. Strickland and NAMUNDO v. Holder, and examined how they will shape the future of voting rights and redistricting.

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