The Supreme Court today summarily affirmed the constitutionality of the soft money ban by a 6 to 3 vote. This is an extremely important victory that stops the recent serious erosion by the Supreme Court of the nation’s campaign finance laws. The decision is a major victory for those who support anti-corruption laws to protect the integrity of our elections and our government. Contribution limits have served as the core provisions in the nation’s campaign finance laws to prevent the corruption of government decisions and federal officeholders.
Today’s decision leaves the soft money ban firmly in place and makes clear that limits on contributions to federal candidates and political parties are a constitutional means to prevent government corruption. The provisions banning the use of soft money contributions by political parties in federal elections were the main provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act enacted in 2002 The constitutionality of the soft money ban was upheld in 2003 in McConnell v. FEC, and the Republican National Committee challenged it again last year “as applied” to certain activities that the RNC wanted to conduct using soft money.
A three-judge district court rejected the RNC’s claim in March, 2010, claiming that the case is controlled by McConnell. The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling today and, thus, the law which bans the national political parties from raising or spending any soft money remains constitutional, as the Court first concluded in 2003.
The three judges who dissented today, Justices Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas, also dissented from the McConnell decision in 2003 upholding the constitutionality of the soft money ban Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) intervened in the RNC case to defend the soft money ban. He was represented in the case by a legal team headed by Seth Waxman, Randy Moss and Roger Witten of the law firm of WilmerHale.