June 26, 2008

The Supreme Court on campaign finance, and John McCain on the Supreme Court.

Adam Liptak on the new campaign finance case:
The law at issue [in Davis v. F.E.C.] imposed special rules in races with candidates who finance their own campaigns. Those candidates are required to disclose more information, and their opponents are allowed to raise more money.

... But the millionaire’s amendment, part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, is based on a different rationale: that of compensating for the additional financial resources available to candidates willing to spend their own money....

The law was a response to Supreme Court rulings that forbid limits on the amount that candidates can spend on their own behalf. But Justice Alito wrote that the legislative response was unconstitutional because it “imposes an unprecedented penalty on any candidate who robustly exercises” free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Rich candidates, Justice Alito said, must “choose between the First Amendment right to engage in unfettered political speech and subjection to discriminatory fundraising limitations.”
I approve. Liptak quotes lawprof Richard Pildes:
"It’s deeply dangerous for Congress to change the ground rules for individual races based on a judgment about what’s fair.

"[T]he opinion is written in a way that portends an unsympathetic response to campaign finance regulations to go anywhere beyond the existing structure."

Now, what did John McCain say about the news about his law?
"The 'Millionaire's Amendment' was not part of the original legislation, and was added on the floor during debate," McCain said in a statement...

“Today's Supreme Court decision in Davis v. FEC does not affect the Court's landmark ruling in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission upholding the constitutionality of the soft money ban contained in BCRA. That ban is at the core of the reforms I worked for in the long bipartisan fight to pass campaign finance reform."
So, he's not taking responsibility for the provision the Court held unconstitutional, because it wasn't part of the original plan? But amendments to original plans matter. For example, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution matters.

And McCain is pleased with McConnell, but that case came out the way it did because of Justice O'Connor's vote, and her replacement Samuel Alito wrote today's opinion.

McCain is running for President saying that he will appoint Supreme Court Justices like Alito.

Something doesn't add up.


Unknown said...

In one case there is uncertainty about how the candidate feels and whom he will appoint, in the other case no doubt at all. In the former case there will be moaning and gnashing of teeth in the Senate, no matter who is nominated and how well qualified. In the latter case after some mild objections, a 95-5 confirmation. (I'm sorry 94-5, Kerry will be in Switzerland)

Yeah he's more than a bit squirrely on that, but I'll take my chances given everything else.

EnigmatiCore said...

Both candidates are running around pandering and lying about their own beliefs about the Judiciary. Yours is a great example for McCain. Obama is even worse in this regard, as he cheers Heller and criticizes Kennedy, all while promising nominees like those who were in the minority in Heller and the majority in Kennedy, and blasting as unacceptable the very Justices who took the positions he claims as his own now.

Simply put-- Obama will try to give us more Stevens and Ginsburg and the decisions they make. Anything he does to try to make it sound like he is more centrist is a lie.

McCain is going to give us more Kennedys and more O'Connors. Anything he does to try to make it sound like he is more conservative is a lie.

If one wants a liberal court, Obama is the vote. If one wants a more centrist court, McCain is. If one wants a conservative court, then one has to decide-- which is the best alternative.

Anonymous said...

"Something doesn't add up."

Drug residue. Eat. Sleep. Try thinking tomorrow.

Ann Althouse said...

Don't tell me I haven't made a point unless you can explain it. I take your failure to add it up and make it coherent as a concession that it is not.

Bender R said...

Why is it that, with McCain, it is always about him?? It is ALWAYS me, me, me, I, I, I.

Whenever he comments on any issue (or, to be more accurate, when his staff writes something in his name), the comments always include some statement about how McCain voted previously on the matter, or some claim that "he lead the way" on this or that. McCain NEVER simply makes a statement promoting a given issue on the merits, it is always about him.

More and more it is clear that McCain is the same kind of boor that John Kerry and Bill Clinton are -- self-centered egomaniacs who think that the world revolves around them.

MadisonMan said...

Why is it that, with McCain, it is always about him??

I suspect in this case, it's because he authored the McCain/Feingold bill.

I think this is great news for John Gard. Maybe he'll finally get out of Wisconsin, which will be great for Wisconsin.

Kevin said...


I think you're being rather one-sided by attacking only one side of the McCain-Feingold authors, when Russ offered the exact same excuse of the "Millionaire's Amendment" not being part of the original legislation.


Senators McCain and Feingold originally opposed the amendment because it allowed candidates who faced a wealthy opponent to raise unlimited funds from their contributors under increased limits. It also applied the same threshold for personal spending in every state, rather than recognizing that a self-financed candidate spending $500,000 on a race in, say, Vermont or Maine is a lot different than one spending $500,000 in New York or California. But after these issues were addressed, both Senators Feingold and McCain voted for the amendment. Later in the legislative process, the House added a millionaire’s amendment for House races.

During debate on the amendment in the Senate, Senator Feingold said, “I am not happy with the idea that we are raising individual limits in this way. I believe this sets a dangerous precedent both for the future of this debate and for future debates, but the amendment is much improved, and in the spirit of compromise, I intend to support it. However, this is not an amendment that I believe is essential to reform.”

Doesn't Feingold deserve the same level of scrutiny you're giving to McCain?

Also, MadisonMan, I don't know how this ruling helps John Gard against Steve Kagen since Kagen pumped enough $ in '06 to activate the "Millionaire's Amendment." Of course, you wonder how TV ads shown @ 3 AM helped either with insomniacs...

Simon said...

Kevin said...
"Doesn't Feingold deserve the same level of scrutiny [that Ann is] giving to McCain?"

Feingold isn't running for President. That tends to reduce the scrutiny of him.

Simon said...

Ann said...
"So, he's not taking responsibility for the provision the Court held unconstitutional, because it wasn't part of the original plan? But amendments to original plans matter."

It was an amendment introduced in the House (the Capito amendment, H.Amdt. 422, was agreed to by voice vote in the House on 2/13/02, see 148 Cong. Rec. H429-32 (2002)). That really limits Senator McCain's ability to oppose and excise it. Should he have voted against the entire bill to stop one clause he opposed?

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