Campaign Law's Critics Will Appeal Panel's Ruling

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Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Opponents of the new campaign-finance law revealed yesterday that they have filed notice they will appeal Friday's ruling to the Supreme Court as political committees and interest groups grappled with what the ruling means.

A three-judge federal court panel assigned to hear the case ruled that political parties may raise and spend "soft money" for party-building activities, overturning part of the law but upholding its ban on political committees using soft money to run issue advertisements.

The panel also struck down the law's prohibition on outside groups running issue ads before an election or primary but replaced that with restrictions that such groups say are just as onerous.

On Friday both the Federal Election Commission, the chief defendant, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican and the lead plaintiff in the case against the law, filed separate notices with the Supreme Court that they would appeal the lower-court ruling to the justices.

"At its core, this is a case about the First Amendment. [The law] constitutes a frontal assault on First Amendment values, the likes of which have not been seen since the Republic's infancy," Mr. McConnell said in his filing.

The National Rifle Association was to file its appeal of the rules for outside interest groups late yesterday or today. A blizzard of other filings from political-pressure groups and the Republic National Committee are expected.

Several parties are considering asking the Supreme Court to stay the lower panel's decision, but so far nobody has made such a request. If the Supreme Court granted a stay, the law would remain in effect as Congress passed it until the high court has a chance to rule.

Last year Congress passed, and the president signed, a law prohibiting national parties from collecting or spending soft money donations to the parties from unions, corporations and other groups for party building. …