The Other Important SCOTUS Ruling

By Marc Ambinder

The Court today struck down the "millionaire's amendment" to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, with Justice Alito writing that it's unconstitutional to set different limits for candidates competing against one another, even when one of them has the resources to self-fund. Election law expert Rick Hasen believes that the "5-4 decision has much broader implications, laying the groundwork for striking down limits on spending by corporations and unions" and may signal the beginning of the end for public financing because "the opinion repeatedly (see maj opn 10-18) rejects the idea that Congress has any ability to try to level the playing field, stating that doing so would take the question away from voters."

Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg e-mails to say that "[t]he case itself means that wealthy individuals will once again be able to write checks to their congressional campaigns without being penalized by the Millionaires Amendment. On a broader scale, it's the latest as applied challenge chipping away of BCRA since it was upheld in a facial challenge in 2003. It does provide encouragement -- as did Wisconsin Right to Life -- for additional challenges to BCRA. All the decisions, including today's, have been 5-4, showing the impact of Justices Roberts and Alito replacing Justice O'Connor on the Court. Another thought -- the Millionaires Amendment was added to BCRA as an incumbent protection measure to get the votes needed to pass BCRA. Many said at the time the Millionaires Amendment was unconstitutional. If BCRA's sponsors had been honest about that at the time, would McCain-Feingold ever gotten the votes to become law?"

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2008/06/the-other-important-scotus-ruling/53632/