A Victory for Free Political Speech

Supreme Court Knocks a Hole in McCain-Feingold

By Published on .

Yesterday, the Supreme Court did one small thing right when it loosened "political advertising restrictions aimed at corporate- and union-funded television ads Monday, weakening a key provision of a landmark campaign finance law."

John McCain, of course, was disappointed. Even before McCain set about seeing how fast he could lose the Republican nomination by forcing the current immigration bill through Congress, he'd made plenty of enemies on the right with the McCain-Feingold bill. (And there are plenty of reasons -- actually the same ones -- that liberals should despise the bill, but Feingold's not running for president.)

This particular decision involved only a tiny component of the vast McCain-Feingold monstrosity. The Supreme Court upheld "an appeals court ruling that an anti-abortion group should have been allowed to air ads during the final two months before the 2004 elections. The law unreasonably limits speech and violates the group's First Amendment rights, the court said."

I'm not going to get into a long diatribe here, but ... It's simply unacceptable that the First Amendment in this country has been interpreted to protect every thing from cereal advertising to performance art involving naked grannies and flaming puppies (both of which are fine and good things), but we have the majority of congress and the Supreme Court upholding a bill that carves up political speech -- the very kind of speech the First Amendment was written to protect.

Typically, you can judge the odiousness of a bill by the allies it creates. How bad is McCain-Feingold? Consider that this case not only found George W. Bush -- who seems hell-bent on alienating the few people left who support him -- battling against a Pro-Life group. And coming to bat for Wisconsin Right to Life: the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Rifle Association, the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Realtors and other strange bedfellows.

McCain-Feingold will be with us at least through the next presidential election, but a victory is a victory, no matter how small.
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