NVRI E-News: December 5, 2005

A few updates as we near the end of the year... Supreme Court Schedule Set
Randall v. Sorrell, the Supreme Court case considering Vermont's spending limits law, has been scheduled for oral argument on February 28, 2006. On that day, NVRI and the Vermont Attorney General's office will present arguments that Vermont's law is constitutional, both in regards to contribution limits, and most significantly, spending limits. Petitioners' briefs (those being submitted on behalf of the Vermont Republican Party, Vermont Right to Life, and others who oppose the law) are due by December 14. Briefs from respondents (NVRI, Vermont Attorney General and others who support the law) are due by February 8.

Website Updated for Supreme Court Case
We have just updated our website, so you can more easily find all information about the Supreme Court case involving Vermont's spending limits law. The NVRI home page has a now entry portal for information about that case, and about campaign spending limits generally. As materials become available, we will post all briefs - on both sides - as well as other materials (op-ed articles, editorials, analyses) as they become available. Donna Brazille had a particularly interesting op-ed piece in Roll Call last month, for instance. You can find that piece posted on the website.

Victory for Minnesota Reform Law
On November 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit issued a decision in Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life v. Kelley, upholding most provisions of a Minnesota reform law that was challenged on First Amendment grounds. NVRI had filed an amicus brief in the case focusing on two key provisions of the law: an aggregate cap on contributions from PACs and large donors, and a provision allowing regulation of groups whose major purpose is to further a candidate's election, even if they do not expressly advocate for candidates. Read more about it here.

Victory in Conneticut
Connecticut last week became the first state legislature to pass public financing. Other states that have had or currently have public financing developed them only after initiative campaigns. The Connecticut bill takes effect Dec. 31, 2006, and will apply for the first time to the 2008 state legislative campaigns. Under most circumstances, qualifying candidates would be given $25,000 for House and $85,000 for Senate races. In 2010, gubernatorial candidates would be eligible for $1.25 million to wage primaries and $3 million for general-election campaigns. Qualifying candidates whose opponents exceed the spending limits could obtain further state grants to match their opponent, up to double the original grant. To read more about this big win for campaign finance reform advocates, see the Hartford Courant article here. Or check Public Campaign's website here.

Year-end Contributions
Please take time to make a year-end contribution to NVRI's work. We are supported entirely by charitable contributions from individuals and foundations. In order to continue our work to make elections fairer for all, we need your help.


Stuart Comstock-Gay
Executive Director
National Voting Rights Institute