The American Prospect: 'Soft Money' is Back, and Republicans Want to Make it Official


“Bopp is tenacious,” says Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. “The reality is that he has been, for 30 years or so, banging his head against the door, trying to break it down.”

When the court’s make-up changed with the departure of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, Noble says, the Court majority became more aligned with Bopp’s views. Still, Bopp’s prior attempts to roll back the soft-money ban were stopped by lower courts that ruled the Supreme Court had already sufficiently weighed in on the issue.

As the case makes its way toward a likely Supreme Court showdown, campaign-finance reform advocates are uncertain how the Court’s current eight-member divide might affect the outcome. If an evenly divided Court did rule in favor of Bopp and the Louisiana GOP, Noble says it would eviscerate the soft-money ban for state committees. He warns that with the higher limits that now apply to joint-fundraising committees, soft money raised at the state level would inevitably seep into the federal party apparatuses.

“There’s no question that what this would do is allow soft money to flood into federal elections,” Noble says. “It would really have a major effect.”

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