Nation: Supreme Court Retains Ban on Soft Money

Posted June 29, 2010 at 5:52pm

Campaign finance reform advocates got a rare victory Tuesday as the Supreme Court announced it will not hear a case challenging the soft money ban.

The court said it will allow a lower-court ruling to stand. That ruling kept in place the ban on unlimited donations to political organizations.

In its unsuccessful appeal, the Republican National Committee sought to raise unlimited big-dollar contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy donors — the kind of donations that were called soft money before the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 made such transactions illegal.

Earlier this year, the high court struck down part of that law and gave corporations, unions and nonprofits the ability to use their organizations’ treasuries to fund advertisements for and against federal candidates.

The Campaign Legal Center applauded the court’s decision, calling it “welcome news for anyone disturbed by the pay-to-play model of democracy and commerce in Washington.”

“It would have been irresponsible for the high court to revisit that issue again and show an utter lack of respect for judicial precedent,” CLC Executive Director Gerry Hebert said in a statement. “After all, nothing has really changed since [a similar decision seven years ago] except of course for the composition of the Court.”

The Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates less regulation of campaign contributions, took the news in stride.

“While the court’s ruling is disappointing, it is not out of line with the court’s precedent,” said Brad Smith, the group’s leader and a former Federal Election Commission chairman. “The ban on soft money is a self-imposed problem Congress mandated for political parties.”