Supreme Court Again Rejects Challenge to “Soft Money” Contribution Limits

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  • David Vance
Statement of Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause V.P. of Litigation & Policy

Politicians and party committees have repeatedly challenged the McCain-Feingold law’s soft money ban and the Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected these challenges. Again today, the Court recognized the potential for corruption from unlimited contributions to party committees and affirmed a lower court decision in Republican Party of Louisiana v. FEC upholding the soft money ban as applied to state political party committees. It is however troubling to see the newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, join with Justice Thomas in unsuccessfully urging their colleagues to schedule the soft money challenge for oral argument.

Americans want to restore balance to our political system. For voters that means ensuring the voice of the people, not wealthy special interests, is again heard in the halls of power and is the basis for setting the nation’s agenda. The imbalance created by the Supreme Court, in a series of decisions that have gutted many campaign finance laws, makes self-governance through representative democracy more vulnerable than at any moment since the Civil War. But the people are responding. Democrats, Republicans, smaller parties, and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly support common sense curbs on the buying and selling of political influence. At least as far as direct contributions to candidates and party committees is concerned, the Supreme Court has consistently agreed with them. The Court in its Citizens United decision may pretend that unlimited contributions to outside groups supporting candidates cannot buy influence, but at least in terms of contributions to candidates and parties they have remained steady.