Things aren’t looking too good these days for advocates of campaign finance reform, election law professor Rick Hasen writes in Slate.The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this week to a hear a case that could do away with campaign contribution limits that exist to make sure the wealthy don’t hold too much sway over politicians.
In 2010, the high court took the radical step of letting corporations spend as much money on political campaigns as they’d like as long as they don’t give directly to candidates.
But Hasen points out that the Supreme Court actually upheld really tough campaign finance reforms (like McCain-Feingold) before Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2004.
Since Samuel Alito joined the bench, the high court has mostly struck down campaign finance laws, but most of those decisions were 5-4, Hasen points out.
We just need one justice to leave to make the court more friendly toward campaign finance reform, as it was during the days of O’Connor, according to Hasen.
Antonin Scalia, who’s 76, could very well be the next justice to leave.
But, while he is on the bench, it seems pretty clear that Scalia won’t be inclined to limit the ability of wealthy people, or corporations, to give freely to campaigns.
In 2003, the Supreme Court mostly upheld McCain-Feingold, a landmark campaign finance law that sought to limit the influence of money over politics.
Scalia wrote the dissent in that case, calling the ruling a “sad day for freedom of speech,” PBS reported at the time.
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