The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release a decision which could gut the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. And that could mean even more media advertising in congressional and presidential campaigns, paid for by powerful interests.
How far will the justices go? Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold fears it could be pretty far. “If they overturn a hundred years of laws, it means that corporations or unions can just open their treasuries . . . and just completely buy up all the television time, and drown out everyone else’s voices,” Feingold said Monday in Racine.
AUDIO: Sen. Russ Feingold (:50 MP3) AUDIO: Sen. Russ Feingold (:50 MP3)
The case stems from a corporate-funded conservative group’s 2008 video on Hillary Clinton, which the FEC ruled was a campaign ad. The group, Citizens United, sued. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case – and to also review past court restrictions on corporate and union cash in campaigns. “This would be in my view, a lawless decision from the Supreme Court,” said Feingold. “Part of me says I can’t believe they’ll do it, but there’s some indication they might, and that means the whole idea of respecting the previous decisions of the Supreme Court won’t mean anything anymore.”
The Wisconsin Democrat who authored campaign finance reform with Republican Senator John McCain, says the court could open the floodgates to big money contributors, turning back decades of previous decisions. “These things were argued in 1907, when they passed the ban on corporate treasuries. It was argued in 1947, Taft-Hartley did this. The Supreme Court has affirmed over and over again that it’s not part of free speech that corporations and unions can use their treasuries,” said Feingold. “It’s just an example of activism, and legislating by a court, if they do this.”