This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order denying certiorari review in Lieu v. Federal Election Commission, the case to end super PACs. This case–launched in November 2016 by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Cal.), the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Or.), and three congressional candidates from both major parties–was a bipartisan effort to present the Supreme Court with an opportunity to review SpeechNow v. FEC, the 2010 lower court case that allowed for the creation of super PACs, but which had never been presented to the Court for its review. Since SpeechNow, super PACs–which allow wealthy donors to make unlimited contributions to support candidates, on the theory that the PACs’ spending is “independent”– have come to dominate national and, increasingly, state and local campaign financing.

Our legal team for this case, besides the legal team at Free Speech For People, included Prof. Jeffrey Fisher, Co-Director of the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic; Prof. Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, one of the nation’s foremost constitutional law scholars; Prof. Albert Alschuler of the University of Chicago Law School, a national expert on the law of corruption; and Prof. Richard Painter of the University of Minnesota Law School, who served as chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush. The petition for certiorari, which asked the Supreme Court to overrule the lower court’s SpeechNow decision without calling into question any precedent of the Supreme Court (including Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), was supported by several briefs of amici curiae, including 17 states; six U.S. Senators; a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission; legal scholars of campaign finance; political scientists; and empirical researchers on the appearance of corruption.

Unfortunately, the untimely passing of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the elevation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in her stead, changed the dynamic on the Court. We are disappointed that the Court did not take this opportunity to review SpeechNow, but we can understand why justices who might have been inclined to take such an opportunity with Justice Ginsburg on the bench might conclude that they do not presently have the votes. We intend to present this issue to the Court again at some point in the future. The SpeechNow ruling, unleashing super PACs in our elections, will not stand the test of time.