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Supreme Court to Hear First Amendment Case (ad limits in McCain-Feingold campaign finance law)
Palm Beach Post ^ | 1/14/06 | FREDERIC J. FROMMER

Posted on 01/14/2006 6:32:43 AM PST by Libloather

Supreme Court to Hear First Amendment Case
By FREDERIC J. FROMMER
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in an anti-abortion group's First Amendment challenge to advertising limits in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

Wisconsin Right to Life was barred in 2004 from broadcasting ads that mentioned Sen. Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat facing re-election who co-authored the law with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. A provision of the law banned the use of corporate or union money for ads identifying federal candidates two months before a general election.

In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld the law, 5-4, but Wisconsin Right to Life argues that its ads should have been allowed anyway because they constituted lobbying, not electioneering. The commercials urged people to call Feingold and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., asking them to oppose filibustering President Bush's judicial selections.

Ironically, the court takes up the case while the Senate is debating Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, whom Democrats won't rule out filibustering. But his nomination appears headed for approval.

In the first challenge to how the law was working in practice, Wisconsin Right to Life in 2004 sought an injunction barring the Federal Election Commission from enforcing the provision against it. But a federal district court denied the request, and a month later, then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist declined the group's request to intervene.

"The point of our ads was not to influence an election, but to lobby upcoming action in Congress," said James Bopp Jr., an attorney for Wisconsin Right to Life. "The ads said nothing about elections, or the senators' character, or even their positions."

But the Bush administration, which is defending the law, wrote in a brief that such an argument "assumes a clean divide between lobbying and electioneering communications that simply does not exist in the real world."

"Advertisements exhorting interested citizens to contact their elected representatives may also have the purpose of influencing those citizens' votes," the government added.

Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which supports the law, called the commercials "classic sham issue ads, right before the election."

And he noted that Wisconsin Right to Life could have run the ads had it used political action committee money, which must be raised in smaller, limited amounts.

Wisconsin Right to Life said that was not a viable option. In its filing, the group said it had only $14,000 in its PAC at the time it wanted to run the ads, which would have cost $100,000. It said there wasn't enough time to raise the money through its PAC.

"Incumbent politicians should not be able to shield themselves from lobbying about upcoming votes in Congress through campaign finance regulations," the group said in its filing.

Bopp said groups from across the political spectrum, including the liberal Alliance for Justice, filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the anti-abortion group's case.

In the 2003 case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was an author of the court's majority opinion and provided the deciding vote. Although she will hear arguments on Tuesday, she will likely be off the court by the time it issues its ruling, assuming Alito is confirmed by the Senate.

That sets up the possibility of a 4-4 deadlock, in which case the court could either affirm the lower court ruling or schedule new oral arguments with Alito on the bench.

The case is Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission, 04-1581.


TOPICS: Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: ads; alito; amendment; campaign; case; cfr; court; elections; feingold; finance; first; firstamendment; hear; law; limits; loot; mccain; robertscourt; scotus; supreme

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, left, and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., right hold a news conference in this April 2, 2001 file photo, at the Capitol in Washington. Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., center background looks on. The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2006, in an anti-abortion group's First Amendment challenge to advertising limits in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. (AP Photo/Joe Marquette, File)
1 posted on 01/14/2006 6:32:49 AM PST by Libloather
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To: Libloather

HERE is the sort of case that could/should have waited until Justice Alito was seated.


2 posted on 01/14/2006 6:34:32 AM PST by Redbob
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To: Libloather

The Manchurian Candidate and an open socialist are doing their best to destroy America.


3 posted on 01/14/2006 6:35:56 AM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran (“Don't approach a Bull from the front, a Horse from the back, or a Fool from any side.”)
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To: HuntsvilleTxVeteran

Oddly enough, thanks to a loophole in McCain-Feingold and a ruling by the FEC, Indian tribes aren't covered by the same rules as everybody else. And guess who the biggest recipient of tribal money is up on the Hill: Sen. McKeating...er, McCain.


4 posted on 01/14/2006 6:37:55 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: Redbob
"That sets up the possibility of a 4-4 deadlock, in which case the court could either affirm the lower court ruling or schedule new oral arguments with Alito on the bench."

I guess it's always best to read the whole post...

5 posted on 01/14/2006 6:39:54 AM PST by Redbob
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To: Libloather
The fascist lawyer at the White House defending the government's position against these ads should be fired.

McCain should be censured. Feingold should be shipped out to a country more in tune with his attitude toward the First Amendment ~ maybe Big China ~ he could get a job there with Yahoo or Microsoft.

6 posted on 01/14/2006 6:42:20 AM PST by muawiyah (-)
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To: Redbob

I hope Alito is on the bench and can decide this case. In fact, I hope McCain-Feingold is delcared unconstitutional, period.


7 posted on 01/14/2006 6:43:21 AM PST by demkicker
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To: Libloather
But the Bush administration, which is defending the law, wrote in a brief that such an argument "assumes a clean divide between lobbying and electioneering communications that simply does not exist in the real world."

This is disgraceful---both the argument and the defense of it by the Bush administration.


"Advertisements exhorting interested citizens to contact their elected representatives may also have the purpose of influencing those citizens' votes," the government added.


Ads urging people to contact representatives! Maybe trying to influence votes! Shocking!

8 posted on 01/14/2006 6:44:13 AM PST by Graymatter
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To: demkicker; Cboldt

what is the means of getting him up to speed?

I heard if he's on the court by the time they rule, he can join in, but some say it would have to be reheard.

anybody know which it is?


9 posted on 01/14/2006 6:46:19 AM PST by Howlin
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To: Howlin
I heard if he's on the court by the time they rule, he can join in, but some say it would have to be reheard.
anybody know which it is?

It would have to be reheard. In order to participate in the opinion, a Justice is expected to be "on the court" at the time of oral argument. That "vile" group, the COngressional Research Service has a publication on it, prepared in light of O'Connor's unprecedented decision to make her step down date contingent and coincident with a replacement being confirmed.

10 posted on 01/14/2006 6:51:16 AM PST by Cboldt
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To: Libloather
After everything I heard this week, I wouldn't bet a gum wrapper on the prospect of Alito sticking up for the First Amendment here.
Also, it sounds like the defendants aren't challenging the law head-on, just arguing that it doesn't apply to them. And this monstrosity, McCain-Feingold, ought to be challenged directly, not merely wiggled around.
11 posted on 01/14/2006 6:55:37 AM PST by Graymatter
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To: muawiyah

"The fascist lawyer at the White House defending the government's position against these ads should be fired."

Do you think some staff lawyer at the White House is grinding his own ax and not acting at the direction of his employer, the president? Bush signed this monstrosity into law and now he is defending it. He's wrong on all counts, of course, but don't blame the lawyer(s).


12 posted on 01/14/2006 6:56:24 AM PST by jocon307 (The Silent Majority - silent no longer)
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To: jocon307

Yes, blame the lawyer. If the President were not able to count on the myriad of staff attorneys available to the White House, he'd be more careful with what he signs into law in the future.


13 posted on 01/14/2006 7:03:31 AM PST by muawiyah (-)
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To: Howlin
I heard if he's on the court by the time they rule, he can join in, but some say it would have to be reheard.
anybody know which it is?

It would have to be reheard. In order to participate in the opinion, a Justice is expected to be "on the court" at the time of oral argument. That "vile" group, the COngressional Research Service has a publication on it, prepared in light of O'Connor's unprecedented decision to make her step down date contingent and coincident with a replacement being confirmed.

The document can be obtained from -> http://opencrs.cdt.org/document/RS22300

Direct Link -> http://digital.library.unt.edu/.../RS22300_2005Oct18.pdf

It's short.

The link below has a few others that may be of interest, such as ...

Speed of Presidential and Senate Actions on Supreme Court Nominations, 1900-2005
Report Number: RL33118 (under the category "Congress")

http://digital.library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs/browse/

14 posted on 01/14/2006 7:05:10 AM PST by Cboldt
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To: Redbob
"HERE is the sort of case that could/should have waited until Justice Alito was seated."

Here is also why the Dims want to delay the confirmation for another week.

15 posted on 01/14/2006 7:14:32 AM PST by Flint
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To: Libloather
But the Bush administration, which is defending the law, wrote in a brief that such an argument "assumes a clean divide between lobbying and electioneering communications that simply does not exist in the real world." "Advertisements exhorting interested citizens to contact their elected representatives may also have the purpose of influencing those citizens' votes," the government added.

Oh, geezzzz. On this one, I strongly part company with the Congress (McCain-Feingold), President Bush (who signed it), the Justice Department (which defends it) and the Supreme Court (its first decision upholding this terrible law). What could be more clear than this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

McCain-Feingold was supposed to clean up politics. Yet now we are on the cusp of the latest Congressional money-and-lobbying scandal. McCain-Feingold can only be considered an abject failure at its supposed core purpose, although it succeeds in abridging the people's freedom of speech and right to petition the Government.

16 posted on 01/14/2006 7:42:43 AM PST by Wolfstar ("We must...all hang together or...we shall all hang separately." Benjamin Franklin)
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To: Libloather

The idiots on the Supreme Court should just throw the law out altogether.


17 posted on 01/14/2006 7:45:10 AM PST by Brilliant
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To: Libloather

Please let O'Conner be gone when this case is decided.


18 posted on 01/14/2006 8:26:53 AM PST by ModelBreaker
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To: ModelBreaker
Please let O'Conner be gone when this case is decided.

Roberts decides when the ruling comes down. He will wait until Alito is by his side. I am sure of it.

19 posted on 01/14/2006 9:09:49 AM PST by Clump
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To: Clump
"Roberts decides when the ruling comes down. He will wait until Alito is by his side. I am sure of it."

Article VI of the Constitution of the United States of America requires that Supreme Court justices take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. They should take this oath in public on the steps of the Supreme Court in front of We The People......not in some secret chamber without witnesses.

20 posted on 01/14/2006 10:02:34 AM PST by Godebert
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To: Wolfstar

"McCain-Feingold was supposed to clean up politics."

I wish I cuuld even believe in the sincerity of their motives. But all I can remember is McCain's "stop me before I get bribed again" remarks, which caused me to lose all respect for him and his sponsorship of this law. Maybe Feingold is sincere, I never heard he was corrupt in anyway, quite the opposite, but of course I could be wrong.

It is my opinion that what these pols (in both parties) want is to get so much regulation on the books that eventually they'll be back to paper bags of cash, passed under the table.


21 posted on 01/15/2006 4:55:14 AM PST by jocon307 (The Silent Majority - silent no longer)
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To: Redbob
Alito should be appointed by the State of the Union Address
22 posted on 01/15/2006 5:01:56 AM PST by mware (The keeper of the I's once again.)
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To: demkicker

I hope McCain-Feingold is delcared unconstitutional, period.


Both McCain and Feingold are unconstitutional.


23 posted on 01/15/2006 5:08:38 AM PST by John D
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