Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Supreme Court Rulings Show New Courts Direction

The Supreme Court on Monday took a sharp turn away from campaign finance regulation, opening a wide exception to the advertising restrictions that it upheld when the McCain-Feingold law first came before it four years ago.
In a splintered 5-to-4 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that as interpreted broadly by federal regulators and the law’s supporters, the restrictions on television advertisements paid for from corporate or union treasuries in the weeks before an election amounted to censorship of core political speech unless those advertisements explicitly urge a vote for or against a particular candidate.

This is a huge loss for the American people. Once again issue advertisements will flood the airwaves. This is the result of the changed court under George W. Bush. Four years ago this law was upheld by a court that included Sandra Day O'Connor, this ruling opens up a huge loophole that will be abused by the special interest groups.
The decision was a reminder of the ways in which the justices appointed by President Bush are moving the court. While Chief Justice Roberts’s predecessor, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, was a dissenter when the court upheld the law four years ago, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was in the 5-to-4 majority. Her successor, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., voted with Chief Justice Roberts on Monday, and in fact was the only justice to join his opinion fully.

Two other closely divided rulings announced on Monday also showed the influence of the new justices. The court limited student speech and ruled that taxpayers do not have standing to challenge the administration’s program of support for social service programs offered by religious institutions.

The next President will almost surely appoint at least one and possibly more justices. Who we elect as President could have far reaching consequences for a generation. The Supreme Court should be one of the major issues in the next campaign.

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