Circuit Court Rejects RNC Challenge to Party Coordinated Spending Limits


Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sitting en banc roundly rejected the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) challenge to the party coordinated spending limits in Cao v. FEC.  The case was filed by the RNC in 2008, challenging the party coordinated spending limits and the $5,000 political committee contribution limit as applied to party coordinated spending.  In an 11-5 decision, the Court of Appeals today upheld the party spending limits and rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims, noting that the Supreme Court had already affirmed the constitutionality of the challenged limits in its 2001 decision in FEC v. Colorado Republican Fed. Campaign Committee.

Campaign Legal Center counsel Tara Malloy praised the decision: 

“We are pleased that the court turned away this overreaching attack on established campaign finance law and Supreme Court precedent.  Plaintiffs’ broad-side challenge would have gutted the coordinated spending limits and would have enabled large-scale circumvention of the individual contribution limits.  Anti-reformers have in essence barnstormed the country filing lawsuit after lawsuit challenging long-standing campaign finance laws in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC earlier this year.  Those attacking campaign finance reform smelled blood in the water and have assumed that no campaign finance law was safe.  Today’s decision shows that there is plenty of life left in federal campaign finance law.”  

The Legal Center, along with Democracy 21, filed an amici brief with the en banc Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 19, 2010 to defend the constitutionality of the party coordinated spending limits. 

To read the court’s decision, click here.

To read the brief filed in the case by the Legal Center and Democracy 21, click here.