The Republican National Committee and Chairman Michael Steele are continuing their push to allow corporations and individuals to make unlimited donations known as “soft money” to national committees.
On Friday, Steele and the RNC appealed to the Supreme Court after a federal court denied the RNC permission to raise soft money for state elections and congressional redistricting, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Analysts say the court, led by chief justice John Roberts, will likely hear the case, possibly within a year and that the RNC could very likely receive a favorable ruling.
“There is a good chance they will agree to hear the appeal and do so within a year,” said Thomas Mann, senior fellow for governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “If the court takes the case, it is very likely to rule for the RNC and declare the soft money ban unconstitutional.”
On March 26, Washington’s U.S. District Court ruled against the RNC and deferred to the Supreme Court, saying that as a lower court, they did not have the authority to clarify a previous Supreme Court decision.
The District Court seemed impressed, however, by the RNC’s argument that the Court’s ruling in the recent case Citizens United vs. FEC undermined the idea that large contributions to parties do not necessarily lead to corruption.
“On that threshold point, we agree with the RNC’s interpretation of Citizens United,” wrote the court in its opinion, which the Supreme Court could use to support the RNC’s case.
“The Roberts court has issued four decisions on campaign finance, all moving in a deregulatory direction,” Mann told The Daily Caller. “The appeal of the soft money decision by the D.C. District Court would provide them an opportunity to move further in the same direction.”
The RNC will be represented by Ted Olson, former solicitor general for President George W. Bush who is considered one of the top Supreme Court litigators.
If the RNC were to win the case, a key provision of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002 that limited soft money contributions would be struck down, according to Mann.
Meanwhile, Steele’s affidavit reiterated his support for soft money contributions, a position criticized by the Democratic National Committee in a legal brief for the case.
The issue of campaign finance reform was thrust back into the national spotlight when the Court ruled in Citizens United vs. FEC that the First Amendment did not allow limitations on independent political activity funded by corporations that favors a candidate or party in a federal election.
President Barack Obama publicly chastised the Court for its decision in his State of the Union address as the justices sat just feet away from his podium.
“The Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said in the address.
Since then, the president has scrambled to enlist support for legislation that would seek to limit the repercussions of the ruling.
“The president is already motivated to try to limit the impact of the Citizens United [decision],” Mann said. “The timing of a soft money decision would likely come well after Congress deals with the more immediate agenda.”