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Brennan Center Files Amicus Brief in “Soft Money” Case that Could End Up Before U.S. Supreme Court

Today the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, together with a pro-bono team led by Center board member Daniel F. Kolb, filed an amicus brief in Republican Party of Louisiana v. Federal Election Commission, defending the constitutionality of provisions in 2002’s McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, or the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). The case is before a three-judge panel in the D.C. District Court, meaning an appeal would guarantee the U.S. Supreme Court considers the case.

Although the Brennan Center has proposed limited reforms to allow party committees more fundraising flexibility, the brief argues that these recommendations in no way imply that the current regime is unconstitutional:

“In fact, the core relief Plaintiffs seek — permitting certain party committees to raise potentially unlimited funds for federal election activities — could undermine the very objective of broad political participation that led us to call for reform,” reads the brief. “Sensible contribution limits for political parties remain legitimate and necessary.”

The Brennan Center’s interest in the case is especially strong. The Center’s research was cited by members of Congress during the congressional debate around BCRA, and the Center then represented congressional sponsors, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who intervened to defend the law against a previous constitutional challenge.

Read the Brennan Center’s case page on Republican Party of Louisiana v. Federal Election Commission, and full amicus brief.

Read the Brennan Center paper Stronger Parties, Stronger Democracy.

Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on money in politics.

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The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Our work ranges from voting rights to redistricting reform, from access to the courts to presidential power in the fight against terrorism.

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