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Supreme Court Appears Split On Overturning New Campaign Finance Law

September 09, 2003

In a special summer session, the nation’s high court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the law regulating soft money donations from corporations and labor unions. Democracy hosts a debate between Common Cause and the Cato Institute.

The Supreme Court appears split on the constitutionality of the new campaign finance law that bans unregulated soft money from corporations and labor unions. In the first special summer session in three decades, the court yesterday heard four hours of debate.

The law laws are being challenged by a coalition of groups include the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. According to the Washington Post, the court appears to be split and the decision will likely rest on Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Those that appeared unsympathetic to the law were Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Among the attorneys arguing against the ban were Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

  • Donald Simon, general counsel for Common Cause. He filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Common Cause and AARP to support the campaign finance laws.
  • Roger Pilon, Vice President for Legal Affairs for the CATO Institute. He is the founder and director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies and worked in the Reagan administration.
  • Read key documents from the case McConnell v. FEC.