A filing due next month in a key Supreme Court case could provide the first indication of whether the Trump administration will seek to uphold or challenge longstanding campaign finance laws that restrict unlimited “soft money” contributions to political parties (Republican Party of Louisiana v. Federal Election Commission, U.S., No. 16-865, jurisdictional statement filed 1/6/17).
The Supreme Court has set a deadline of March 13 for the Justice Department to file a response to a jurisdictional statement seeking review of a lower-court decision upholding current Federal Election Commission limits on party soft money. The response is expected to be filed on behalf of the FEC by the Office of U.S. Solicitor General, now headed by Acting Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
President Donald Trump hasn’t yet named a permanent Solicitor General, the top DOJ official in charge of representing the government before the Supreme Court. Whoever is nominated would have to be confirmed by the Senate, making it unlikely that the new solicitor general will be in place by the time the government’s response to the soft-money challenge is due.
Francisco, who’s currently holding the job came from the law firm Jones Day, where he represented former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) before the Supreme Court in a major corruption case decided last year. The high court sided with McDonnell in that case and overturned his conviction related to accepting gifts from a Virginia businessman.