January 19, 2007

Breaking News: Court to Hear Major Campaign Finance Case This Term

As expected, the Supreme Court is going to hear the WRTL case this term. The order reads: "Further consideration of the question of jurisdiction is postponed to the hearing of the cases on the merits. The cases are consolidated and a total of one hour is allotted for oral argument. The briefs of appellants are to be filed with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m.,Friday, February 23, 2007. The brief of appellee is to be filed with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m., Friday, March 23, 2007. Reply briefs, if any, are to be filed with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 18, 2007."

Lyle Denniston reports: "Returning to the much-litigated controversy over political campaign ads broadcast during election season, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to rule on two cases that newly test the constitutionality of congressional curbs on such ads. In a brief order, the Court granted review of Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (05-969) and McCain, et al., v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-970). The cases were consolidated and expedited so that the cases can be heard and decided during the current Term -- well in advance of the opening of the presidential campaign in 2008. Because there is a potential issue of mootness in the case, the Court postponed a decision until the hearing on whether it does, indeed, have jurisdiction to rule."

I've explained why this is a major development (more explanation here) that could lead to the Court moving toward a more deregulated campaign finance regime.

UPDATE: Lyle also reports that the Court noted probable jurisdiction in a case involving the Speech or Debate Clause: Dayton v. Hanson "involves a lawsuit against the office of former Minnesota Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton. The Court added to its review of that case new questions about the right to appeal and mootness. The issue raised in the appeal by Dayton's office is whether the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause bars a federal court from hearing a congressional employee job rights claim, when the employee's duties are part of the legislative process. Since Dayton's term has ended, and he is no longer a Senator, his office suggested that the case was moot. The Court will consider that as it reviews the case overall."

Posted by Rick Hasen at January 19, 2007 01:20 PM