Vermont Court Reverses Ruling on Political Cash

A federal appeals court has withdrawn a decision it issued two months ago that allowed Vermont to limit how much political candidates spend even if they aren't receiving public funding.

In a decision late last week, the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York opened the door to reversing its Aug. 7 ruling on Vermont's law.

"The opinion and judgment are hereby withdrawn, pending further proceedings,'' the decision said. Opponents of the law had asked the appeals court to reconsider.

The court's decision was the first such ruling on a question that lawyers said will ultimately have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its 2-1 ruling in August, the court upheld the 1997 law limiting spending by gubernatorial candidates to $300,000. The court also upheld limits on campaign contributions. Gubernatorial candidates, for example, may accept no more than $400 per contributor.

Groups like Vermont Right-to-Life and state Republicans had opposed the law, arguing such limits violate the First Amendment.