Much has been made of the Supreme Court’s rejection of D.C.’s ban on handguns in the home, but the high court handed down another 5-4 ruling as well. It has gone relatively unnoticed–due most likely to the gravity of the handgun ruling–but is nevertheless worth mentioning, if for no other reason than it put a dent in one of the Presidential candidate’s signature pieces of legislation.
In Davis v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court struck a blow to McCain’s treasured “campaign finance reform” by declaring the so-called “Millionaire’s amendment” unconstitutional. It was arguably the most volatile clause in McCain-Feingold because it was not an attempt at fighting political corruption–the stated objective of McCain-Feingold–but rather it protected entrenched incumbents from wealthy challengers. The amendment created a new rule where federal candidates facing a self-financed opponent who contributes more than $350,000 to their own campaign are permitted to accept donations at triple the normal contribution limits ($6,900 rather than $2,300).
In George Will’s column on yesterday’s two decisions, he correctly argues:
Declaring the Millionaires’ Amendment unconstitutional, the court, in an opinion written by Alito, reaffirmed two propositions. First, because money is indispensable for the dissemination of political speech, regulating campaign contributions and expenditures is problematic and justified only by government’s interest in combating “corruption” or the “appearance” thereof. Second, government may not regulate fundraising and spending in order to fine-tune electoral competition by equalizing candidates’ financial resources.
One of the main arguments used to convince disillusioned conservatives to go to the ballot box this November and pull the lever for McCain has been just how destructive Obama’s court nominees will be, as opposed to McCain’s. Presidents primarily nominate judges that hold a view of the Constitution similar to their own, and this is said to be one of McCain’s conservative strengths. But while the second amendment has been–to a certain extent–upheld, the same five judges to uphold the second amendment against a liberal D.C. law voted to uphold the first against one of the Arizona Senator’s pet projects. The type of judges McCain has pledged to nominate (he has used Roberts and Alito as examples) have upheld the first amendment against McCain’s “clean government” proposals, and unless we can expect McCain to nominate justices that disagree with him on a fundamental interpretation of the first amendment, the Supreme Court case for McCain has been weakened.