May 22, 2017 – The U.S. Supreme Court today affirmed a lower court decision upholding the ban on corporate contributions to the national political parties, known as “soft money.”
Prior to the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA, also known as McCain-Feingold), “soft money” was an end-run around the federal ban on direct corporate contributions to political parties. The corporate money had been used by the parties primarily to buy television campaign ads. BCRA shut down this practice in 2002; the Supreme Court upheld (pdf) BCRA in 2003.
Today, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the soft money ban by affirming a lower court decision in Republican Party of Louisiana v. FEC, consistent with the 2003 decision. Public Citizen filed an amicus brief in the case, with Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, in support of preserving the ban.
“Corporate and special interest money has been swamping our elections since the 2010 Citizens United decision allowed unlimited and often undisclosed spending through outside groups,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist with Public Citizen. “But even after Citizens United, the court has not invalidated the ban on direct corporate contributions to political parties and candidates. It is truly significant that today’s decision confirms that the ban on direct corporate contributions is constitutional.”