Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Supreme Court Upholds Political Money Law - Washington Post

Time to see how I did. I'm going to go by the Post's article, because I don't have time to read a 300+ page opinion with a final exam looming in a couple hours.

A month ago, I made these predictions:

"But I do have a prediction: Mostly a victory for BCRA."

I'd say that's about right, given the headline.

"Only Kennedy, Thomas, and Scalia will dissent to most parts."

Post:

"In addition to Stevens and O'Connor, Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer signed the main opinion. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas dissented on most issues."

I was basically wrong here. The Chief Justice decided to reconsider his views, apparently. He signed-on to Buckley, Nixon, and Austin (three recent major state campaign finance decisions), and did not vote to overrule Buckley in Colorado Republican II. I figured he'd find most of the BCRA a corrective measure for the flaws Buckley's shown over time.

But, more importantly, Justice O'Connor, a dissenter in Austin, found independent expenditure restrictions ok this time around. Looks like she found just about everything ok, in fact. That made the difference.

"Everyone will get rid of the contribution restrictions for minors."

The Post edited this out of the article after I refreshed, but the Court did strike this down.

"6-3 on soft money questions."

5-4, except "Swing voter Kennedy struck a compromise on one portion of the law. He said he would vote to uphold a soft money ban only as it applies to federal candidates and officeholders."

I expected The Chief Justice to be number 6, not Kennedy.

"Kennedy will at least dissent to the 'electioneering communications' definition, but probably the whole ad-restriction regime too."

Can't tell from the Post, but Rick Hansen's Electionlawblog says Kennedy dissented to this part.

"Everyone will uphold the disclosure stuff."

Looks like mostly 8-1, with Thomas dissenting.

"Opinion might be a bit of a mess due to all of the different issues to cover."

Could've been worse.

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