Antonin Scalia

McCain-Feingold on the Ropes?


Lyle Denniston has some encouraging reports from inside the SCOTUS, where the McCain-Feingold law is facing its stiffest-ever challenge. The new court seems more skeptical of the law than the pre-2005 court.

The main thrust of the Roberts-Scalia assault during the arguments on FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-969) and Sen. John McCain, et al., v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-970) was that the "electioneering communications" restrictions adopted by Congress in 2002 do not appear to leave enough room for an advocacy group to put up broadcast ads during election season that seek to raise questions about the policy stance of candidates without directly urging voters to vote for or against such candidates. Just last Term, the Court had ruled, in a post-McConnell decision in this same Wisconsin Right to Life dispute, that "as-applied" challenges could still be made to the "blackout" clauses in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

WRTL's lawyer, James Bopp, Jr., of Terre Haute, Ind., appeared to make real headway with his complaint that "as-applied" challenges would seldom succeed under the "blackout" provisions, justifying at a minimum a narrowing interpretation or, perhaps, an overruling of that part of McConnell. Roberts and Scalia helped him significantly, but he also held his own against sometimes sharply tinged questioning from Breyer and Souter.

I didn't go to see the arguments, but a friend who did says the non-Scalia justices were "holding their cards really close." It's really a matter of what Alito decides.

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  1. See, those no-good Rethuglicans put on the court by Bushitler W. McChimpenmoron are out to destroy your civil liberties!

    I mean, really, who could possibly read “Congress shall make no law restricting freedom of speech or of the press” to mean that Congress shall make no law restricting your freedom to publish or broadcast something mentioning a political candidate during the runup to an election. Patently absurd! Judicial activism from the right!

  2. While I’m glad to see any restoration of liberty, it doesn’t look like they’ll be overturning MF and restoring the first amendment. So only a Droopy Dog hooray.

  3. Where are the Governors? They take an oath to the US Constitution, to defend and enforce.
    Don’t cut them cowards any slack.
    When it comes to freedom and rights, only one organization you can rely on; THE LIBERTARIAN MILITIA.
    And yourself.

  4. Who are you arguing with, RC?

    Is there some body of Democrats who point towards the Supreme Court as part of Bush’s threat to our civil liberties?

    The only time I ever see them mentioned in that debate is when they slap the administration down for its civil liberties violations.

    Though I have to admit, the liberal in your head comes up with some really great names for the Chimperor.

  5. Terry, I keep trying to figure out whether people like you are trolls or just DHS folks with no better leads that the random idiots who go, “YEAH!” back to you.

  6. Eric the .5b,

    I think he’s actually Terry Nichols.

  7. If the conservatives are using this court case as their big hope to being able to use free speech in ’08, then they frankly deserve to lose. You know, maybe it’s time to start playing the game the way the LibDems play it. Use those 527’s. Tap into folks like Howard Rich and Richard Mellon Scaife.

    Do you think the other side even gives a flying fig about the status of McCain-Feingold the way you do?

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