(05-02) 12:58 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal court Friday struck down most of a ban on the use of large corporate and union political contributions by political parties, casting into doubt the future of the campaign finance law that was supposed to govern next year's high-stakes presidential election.
The court also ruled unconstitutional new restrictions on election-time political ads by special interest groups and others. It barred the federal government from enforcing them and all other parts of the law it struck down.
The ruling clears the way for an immediate appeal by the losing parties to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court's decision will lay the ground rules for the 2004 presidential election and beyond.
WASHN: and beyond.
Friday, May 2, 2003
©2003 Associated Press
(05-02) 13:05 PDT (AP) -- The decision is a victory for the Republican National Committee and dozens of interest groups, who contended that the law would undermine their ability to participate in politics. It is a loss for Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin who fought for years to get a new law enacted. They argued that it was time to end the corrupting influence of big money in politics.
The ruling came from a special three-member, fast-track panel of Appeals Court Judge Karen Henderson, District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly and District Judge Richard Leon.
In a 2-1 vote, the court ruled that political parties can raise corporate and union contributions for general party-building activities such as get-out-the-vote drives and voter registration but cannot use it for issue advertising.
Also voting 2-1, the court struck down a provision barring a range of interest groups from airing issue ads mentioning federal candidates in those candidates' districts in the month before a primary election and within two months of a general election.
The court made its ruling effective immediately, barring the Federal Election Commission from enforcing the restrictions it struck down.
The new campaign finance law took effect Nov. 6, forcing an immediate change in party fund raising.
It prohibited the national party committees from raising contributions known as "soft money" from corporations, unions and others. The Democratic and Republican parties have collected the unlimited checks in ever-increasing amounts: The fall election saw some contributions of $1 million and more. The parties were allowed to use the money on general party-building activities such as voter registration drives and issue ads.
That decision, like the other parts of the new law declared to be unconstitutional, is effective immediately, the panel ruled.
Barring a stay from the Supreme Court, that means campaign fundraising will enter a confusing standard of regulations, as political parties and interest groups raise funds regulated by a set of laws that may change again when the Supreme Court rules, lawyers in the case said today.
The panel also voted 2-1 to strike down the ban on most "issue ads," or thinly veiled political ads, that corporations, unions, interest groups and individuals can run on radio or television in the run-up to elections. But the court allowed the ban on a secondary definition of the ads to be enforced in more limited situations.
Is'nt the Constitution a WONDERFUL THING God Bless America
Next the libbys are gonna go after talk radio and anything remotly truth bearing.
For those on this forum who blasted Pres. Bush for not speaking out against this ridiculous bill, this decision is the reason why.
He knew it from the beginning and now President Bush has been vindicated! Truly brilliant!