WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court yesterday refused to relax the disclosure requirements for groups that spend money to influence federal elections, as the justices turned away an appeal from antitax and libertarian activists.
Acting the day before the congressional elections, the high court let stand a ruling requiring SpeechNow.org to comply with the federal rules that govern so-called political committees. SpeechNow is a free-speech group founded by officials from the antitax Club for Growth and the libertarian Cato Institute.
SpeechNow’s backers, led by David Keating, argued unsuccessfully that those rules violated the First Amendment and that the group should have to comply only with the less stringent disclosure requirements that apply to other organizations.
A US appeals court disagreed in a unanimous decision, upholding the Federal Election Commission’s classification of SpeechNow as a political committee. The lower court said the additional requirements, including one mandating the disclosure of contributions for administrative expenses, served important interests.
“Requiring disclosure of such information deters and helps expose violations of other campaign finance restrictions, such as those barring contributions from foreign corporations or individuals,’’ the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said.
The Supreme Court has allowed disclosure requirements while striking down restrictions on political spending by corporations and independent groups.
Keating’s appeal contended that political groups should be exempt from the political committee requirements when they make only independent expenditures, those that aren’t coordinated with a campaign. Keating argued that the appeals court ruling will “chill speech that this court has long sought to protect.’’
Final results in some states might not be known for days, but trends could be evident from the Midwest and South — especially from Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia — even before most of the nation has finished dinner.
Six states have polls that close at 7 p.m., and 16 more close by 8 p.m., featuring plenty of telling races in the East and Midwest. First up: Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Vermont, offering the first hard evidence of just how big a night it’s going to be for Republicans.
If the GOP can unseat Representative Baron Hill, a Democrat, in Indiana’s always-hard-fought Ninth Congressional District, for example, that’s a sign of the expected Republican takeover of the House. And if the party can capture all three seats it has an eye on in Indiana, plus beat incumbent John Boccieri in Ohio, that could well signal a GOP hurricane.
On the other hand, if Democrats hold their ground in Indiana, and if their Kentucky Senate candidate, Jack Conway, can beat back Republican Rand Paul, it could be an early indication that GOP gains won’t challenge the record books.
Even if Republicans demonstrate early strength tonight, it will take time for them to lock in enough districts to ensure a GOP majority. That’s because the West Coast states of California, Washington, and Oregon are home to 67 House districts.
In the Senate races, polls don’t close until 1 a.m. in Alaska, where it could take days or weeks to determine the winner of a three-way race for Senator Lisa Murkowski’s seat.
Lincoln Chafee was joined at his campaign headquarters by New York City’s mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, a fellow independent who telephoned prospective voters for Chafee. Republican John Robitaille appeared at a rally alongside Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who stumped earlier in the day for GOP congressional candidate John Loughlin.
And Democrat Frank Caprio, who last week said President Obama can “really shove it’’ for not endorsing him, welcomed former president Bill Clinton to Providence on Sunday and spent yesterday campaigning with fellow Democrats.
“Today’s Nov. 1, and people are wondering how they’re going to pay the rent. It’s people like that that are saying to me: ‘We’re for you, Frank. We want to see you at the State House,’ ’’ Caprio said in an interview at East Providence Senior Center.
Chafee, Caprio, and Robitaille are in a close race to succeed Donald L. Carcieri, a Republican who cannot run again because of term limits. Ken Block, Moderate Party candidate, is also in the race.
“He’d be a great governor. I wish we had him in New York,’’ Bloomberg told one voter about Chafee. “I — really, all kidding aside — wish we had this guy. Hopefully, our new governor, who’ll be elected tomorrow, is as good as this guy.’’
Romney, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, told a crowd of supporters in Cranston that Republicans would win big today and that Robitaille would be part of a “classic and extraordinary victory.’’
“I think the color blue is turning red right here in Rhode Island,’’ Robitaille said.
“Some say the Republican Party is the party of no. Well, you know, they’re right: ‘No to more taxes,’’ he said.
The bus tour started in Nevada on Oct. 18 and wrapped up yesterday with stops in Waterbury, Conn., and Worcester, Mass., before arriving outside the State House in Concord last night.
The Tea Party movement is a coalition of groups angered by federal spending, rising taxes, and the growth and reach of government. It takes its name from the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when Colonists dumped tea off English ships to protest what they considered unfair taxation.
Speakers at the final stop in New Hampshire urged dozens of supporters to vote for Republican candidates.