A Democratic congressman, saying that a Supreme Court ruling on a new campaign finance case would not be likely before the November elections, urged the Court on Tuesday not to rush the schedule for considering the case.   Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, Jr., of Maryland, a defender of limits on campaign finance, filed a response to the motion to expedite in the case of Republican National Committee, et al., v. Federal Election Commission, et al. (091287).  Van Hollen is a party in the case.

The Court is likely to consider the RNC’s appeal at a Conference, either on June 3 or June 10, since Van Hollen and the others on the other side of the case do not intend to seek additional time to file written briefs reacting to the appeal.  The RNC has asked the Court to speed up the  briefing schedule, if the Court agrees to take on the case for full review.

Van Hollen opposed the plea to expedite the filing of briefs.  One reason, the congressman said, is that the District Court ruling rejecting the RNC’s challenge to the federal ban on “soft money” donations to political parties was so clearly correct that the Supreme Court may want to consider upholding it without further formal review  That would remove the need for expediting the case, Van Hollen said.

But, even if the Court accepts the case, the mandate in federal law that such campaign finance cases be handled on an expedited basis would be satisfied, Van Hollen argued, by following the normal schedule.  Briefs could be filed in time for the Court to hear oral argument after its first sitting, in the week of Oct. 4.  In that event, his motion said, a decision would be unlikely before the elections on Nov. 4.

The RNC appeal was filed April 23, so the FEC, Van Hollen and the Democratic National Committee have until May 23 to file their briefs in opposition.  The case is in the form of an appeal, rather than a petition for review (certiorari), so it will take the votes of five Justices to dispose of it, with partial or full review.

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline