WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a lower court to reconsider the constitutionality of a North Carolina law prohibiting political action committees from accepting individual contributions of more than $4,000.
A federal judge and appeals court agreed the law should be struck down, but the justices said those decisions should be reconsidered in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld a federal campaign finance law, known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (search) or BCRA.
"Just as Congress adopted BCRA to address the use of conduits (soft money committees and sham advocacy committees) to circumvent contribution limits, so North Carolina has enacted laws to address similar real world problems involving independent spenders in elections," Susan Nichols, a special state deputy attorney general, had told the justices in a filing.
The North Carolina Right to Life Committee (search) challenged the law and won decisions that allowed individuals to make unlimited donations to PACs that run independent campaigns on behalf of like-minded state candidates, thus avoiding contribution limits directly to the candidate's campaign.
Justices told the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., to review the case again, taking into account the Supreme Court's December ruling in the federal campaign law case.
The case is Leake v. North Carolina Right to Life, Inc., 03-910.