Courting Disaster: Update 2000-2001

Campaign Finance

One decision this term has illustrated how important the next new justice on the Supreme Court will be to the future of campaign finance reform. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court held in Federal Election Commission v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee that federal law can limit a political party’s expenditures that are coordinated with a candidate. The majority held that these limits are constitutionally permissible because they minimize the ability to circumvent limitations that the Court has previously upheld on political contributions to candidates. Justice Thomas dissented, joined by Scalia, Kennedy, and Rehnquist, claiming that limiting coordinated spending by political parties violates the parties’ free speech rights. Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy, however, would go even further, and reiterated their previously expressed desire to overrule Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld limits on political contributions by individuals. The position taken by Scalia and Thomas in this most recent case reinforces the conclusion reached in Courting Disaster that a Court with just one or two more justices like Scalia and Thomas would make meaningful campaign finance reform impossible.

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious