March 21, 2011- The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a Republican lawsuit challenging limits on party spending.

The lawsuit, brought by former Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) and the Republican National Committee against the Federal Election Commission, argued that a rule limiting the amount that parties could spend in coordination with its candidates violated their First Amendment rights. The suit was part of a sustained assault on campaign finance restrictions by conservatives.

Election law experts had considered it likely that the court would at least agree to hear the case, given that its conservative majority has been skeptical of rules restricting the flow of money into politics, as borne out most significantly in its sweeping 5-4 decision last year in a case called Citizens United v. FEC allowing corporations to fund election ads.

More recently, though, the court had refused to hear another case brought by the RNC challenging the prohibition on unlimited contributions to parties – the so-called soft money ban.

Rick Hasen, an election law professor who runs the influential Election Law Blog, speculated that the court’s rejection of Cao’s case could signal a reluctance to make more major changes to campaign finance rules, at least on the part of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito – both of whom were in the Citizens United majority but were unwilling to green light the RNC’s soft money challenge.



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