While the decision did not deal directly with the soft-money ban, which is in a separate section of the law, election experts said the effect would be to undercut the soft-money section as well by permitting a largely unlimited flow of money from corporate treasuries to pay for the all-important broadcast advertisements in the weeks before primary and general elections. Groups seeking to influence the outcome of the election could easily sidestep the prohibition on explicit appeals for or against candidates, supporters of the law said.If it's easy to "sidestep the prohibition," isn't that a good thing? The line between what you have a right to do and what's illegal should be clear -- especially in free speech law. Here, though, the idea is that you only have a right because we're assuming you aren't actually trying to affect the election, yet the Court, by setting up such a presumption to defend that right, has given cover to all sorts of people who absolutely do want to affect the election. And so the McCain-Feingold law is deeply undermined.
Here's what I wrote about the case yesterday. I tend to think that there will be a lot of lawsuits as people take advantage of the Court's ruling and run ads that have an impact on elections. You might think it should be easy to say there's always a "reasonable interpretation" that there was some other purpose to the ad, but the question is when will courts be willing to exclude all the alternate interpretations in particular cases. I think the stakes are so high and the urge to run ads so great that we will see plenty of cases.