(CN) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld without comment a federal law banning large donations to political parties, also called “soft-money” contributions.
The soft-money ban limits the amount of individual donations to political parties, even if the money is not spent on federal elections.
Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas voted to hear the case next term.
The ruling affirms a March district court ruling that the ban — part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — is constitutional.
A special three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., rejected Republicans’ claim that parts of the law, often called McCain-Feingold for its sponsors, could not be reconciled with a January high court decision striking down corporate campaign funding restrictions.
But that decision, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, left intact a 2003 Supreme Court decision upholding soft-money bans. In McConnell v. FEC, the justices had ruled that “large soft-money contributions to national parties are likely to create actual or apparent indebtedness on the part of federal officeholders.”
The panel cited McConnell in dismissing the challenge brought by national, state and local Republican groups.
The “whole point” of the soft-money ban — and the high court’s decision to uphold it — was to stop political parties from using soft-money donations to fund activities that “ultimately influenced federal elections and benefited federal candidates,” D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the special panel.
The justices affirmed that ruling Tuesday without comment, overriding the dissents of Justices Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas.