edited to replace first post with ome that is more complete
Campaign Finance Ruling Excerpts
Excerpts from the Supreme Court's ruling Wednesday in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or BCRA:
Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O'Connor, in upholding key parts of the campaign finance law:
"Many years ago we observed that `to say that Congress is without power to pass appropriate legislation to safeguard ... an election from the improper use of money to influence the result is to deny to the nation in a vital particular the power of self protection.' We abide by that conviction in considering Congress' most recent effort to confine the ill effects of aggregated wealth on our political system. We are under no illusion that BCRA will be the last congressional statement on the matter. Money, like water, will always find an outlet. What problems will arise, and how Congress will respond, are concerns for another day."
Dissent by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist:
"The court attempts to sidestep the unprecedented breadth of this regulation by stating that the `close relationship between federal officeholders and the national parties' makes all donations to the national parties `suspect.' But a close association with others, especially in the realm of political speech, is not a surrogate for corruption; it is one of our most treasured First Amendment rights. The court's willingness to impute corruption on the basis of a relationship greatly infringes associational rights and expands Congress' ability to regulate political speech..."
"No doubt Congress was convinced by the many abuses of the current system that something in this area must be done. Its response, however, was too blunt."
Dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia:
"This is a sad day for the freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restriction upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography, tobacco advertising, dissemination of illegally intercepted communications, and sexually explicit cable programming, would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government..."
"The first instinct of power is the retention of power, and, under a Constitution that requires periodic elections, that is best achieved by the suppression of election-time speech. We have witnessed merely the second scene of Act I of what promises to be a lengthy tragedy."
Dissent by Justice Clarence Thomas:
"The chilling endpoint of the Court's reasoning is not difficult to foresee: outright regulation of the press... Media corporations are influential. There is little doubt that the editorials and commentary they run can affect elections. Nor is there any doubt that media companies often wish to influence elections. One would think that the New York Times fervently hopes that its endorsement of presidential candidates will actually influence people. What is to stop a future Congress from determining that the press is `too influential,' and that the `appearance of corruption' is significant when the media organizations endorse candidates or run `slanted' or `biased' news stories in favor of candidates or parties?"
Justices Stevens and O'Connor:
"Just as troubling to a functioning democracy as classic quid pro quo corruption is the danger that officeholders will decide issues not on their merits or the desires of their constituencies, but according to the wishes of those who have made large financial contributions valued by the officeholder. Even if it occurs only occasionally, the potential for such undue influence is manifest. And unlike straight cash-for-votes transactions, such corruption is neither easily detected nor practical to criminalize. The best means of prevention is to identify and to remove the temptation."
Dissent by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy:
"The First Amendment underwrites the freedom to experiment and to create in the realm of thought and speech. Citizens must be free to use new forms, and new forums, for the expression of ideas. The civic discourse belongs to the people and Government may not prescribe the means used to conduct it. The First Amendment commands that Congress `shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech.' The command cannot be read to allow Congress to provide for the imprisonment of those who attempt to establish new political parties and alter the civic discourse. ... The Court, upholding multiple laws that suppress both spontaneous and concerted speech, leaves us less free than before. Today's decision breaks faith with our tradition of robust and unfettered debate."