Friday, May 02, 2003

Common Cause Celebrates Today's Decision On Campaign Finance Reform

Well, shame on me for not checking around before I posted the last item on the court's action today. Common Cause actually is trumpeting the decision, and believes the portion struck down to be an insignifigant action because of their confidence that the Supreme Court will not do the same. This is truly an interpretation I did not expect, and I'm following and analyzing it closely. More later.
The federal district court today upheld some key provisions of the McCain-Feingold law, including the ban on national and state parties using soft money to run ads about federal candidates. The court also upheld provisions of the law that restrict the use of corporate and labor funding for sham issue ads about federal candidates.

“We are pleased that the court recognized the importance – and the constitutionality – of some key provisions of the campaign finance law,” said Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause, which spearheaded efforts to pass the law. “The provisions upheld by the lower court are central to ending the corrupt soft money system.”

To the extent that the court struck down other portions of the ban on soft money, Common Cause considers today’s ruling to be disappointing, but ultimately unimportant.

“At the end of the day, it’s the Supreme Court that will decide the constitutionality of the soft money ban and other parts of the new reform law,” Pingree said.

Based on previous Supreme Court decisions and the record developed in this case, Common Cause is confident that the new law will be upheld as constitutional when the Supreme Court considers it.

History is on our side. In both of the last two times the Supreme Court ruled on campaign finance issues, it reversed lower court decisions that, like today’s case, threw out reform laws.

This interpretation of today's decision seems to be well based. The Supreme Court's record is clear in the past two cases, and overturned lower court decisions. It will be interesting to explore how reluctantly they have done so the past few times, and how that may be a factor in today's seemingly more partisan and political environment.