On November 25, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, an Obama appointee, ruled that the Louisiana Republican Party’s challenge to part of the McCain-Feingold law is entitled to be heard by a 3-judge court. Here is the 19-page opinion in Republican Party of Louisiana v Federal Election Commission.
Very few constitutional lawsuits are entitled to be heard by a three-judge U.S. District Court. In election law, the only types of case entitled to a 3-judge U.S. District Court are redistricting constitutional cases, and challenges to the McCain-Feingold law of 2002. The reason 3-judge cases are so powerful for plaintiffs is that after the 3-judge court makes its ruling, then the losing side is guaranteed the ability to receive U.S. Supreme Court review. The U.S. Supreme Court must either summarily affirm the lower court ruling, or give the case a full hearing and a full opinion.
The Louisiana Republican Party is trying to strike down the part of the McCain-Feingold law that won’t let state and local parties engage in any type of federal campaign activity, except through segregated federal accounts. State and local parties have severe restrictions on raising money for their federal campaign accounts, due to federal law. If parties could spend money on federal campaign activity out of their ordinary bank accounts, they would be much freer. The Louisiana Republican Party only wants to make independent expenditures in federal campaigns, not direct contributions to federal candidates. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news. A win by the Louisiana Republican Party would be a very meaningful victory for all state and local political parties, including minor parties.