WASHINGTON – Several news organizations asked a federal court Tuesday to unseal all documents submitted in a case challenging the nation's new campaign finance law.
The news organizations are seeking access to thousands of pages currently under seal. They contend the public has a right to a full airing of the evidence presented to the court as it decides whether to strike down major provisions of the law, the first national overhaul of political fund-raising rules in a quarter-century.
Those joining in the motion include The Associated Press; ABC Inc.; The Baltimore Sun Co.; Daily News LP; Dow Jones & Co.; Los Angeles Times Communications L.L.C.; National Broadcasting Co., Inc.; Newsday, Inc.; The New York Times Co.; U.S. News & World Report; and The Washington Post Co.
The new law took effect Nov. 6. It bans national party committees from raising unlimited contributions known as soft money and imposes new election-time ad restrictions on many special-interest groups, among other provisions.
Several groups are suing to try to strike down those and other parts of the law, contending they violate free-speech and other constitutional rights. They include the Republican National Committee, the California Democratic and Republican parties, AFL-CIO, National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union.
To build their cases, the plaintiffs and those defending the law sought fund-raising and other political information from each other and from organizations not involved in the lawsuits.
The court issued a protective order allowing those producing documents and depositions to shield information they considered sensitive from public view.
A federal court panel of two circuit judges and an appellate judge in Washington is considering the case. It is likely to rule on the law's constitutionality early next year, clearing the way for an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court.