The editorial boards the Washington Post and the New York Times are none too pleased with the Supreme Court ruling against the Millionaire's Amendment provision in BCRA that provided rescue funds to candidates facing wealthy, self-financing opponents. Read on for excerpts from the editorials.
Losing the Millionaire's Amendment is not in itself a huge problem; in any event, it could easily be tweaked by letting all candidates, rich and poor alike, raise money in larger chunks. The bigger threat is the implication of the majority's approach for the constitutionality of various state public financing systems. Because under previous Supreme Court rulings participation in such systems must be voluntary, many rely on a "trigger" mechanism by which participating candidates are given, or permitted to raise, extra funds if they are running against a deep-pocketed opponent or if outside groups spend large sums. The majority's conclusion that the Millionaire's Amendment could not be justified by a desire to level the political playing field could invalidate such arrangements. Indeed, the court approvingly cited one appeals court ruling that struck down a public financing scheme.
While the ruling is troubling, Clean Elections public financing programs have survived their share of court challenges and come out on top -- this ruling adds a new wrinkle but hey, we wouldn't want for life to get dull around here right?
The Times calls the Court out for extended even greater privilege to an already privileged lot who have their share of representation in government:
This logic is flawed. The amendment does not infringe on anyone’s right to speak. Mr. Davis could say, or spend, as much as he wanted. It merely allowed his opponent to raise more money to finance his own campaign — and campaign speech. That clearly advances the goals of the First Amendment and ensures that more Americans, wealthy or not, can participate in the political process.
The ruling is conservative judicial activism of the first order. Congress passed the millionaire’s amendment to “level electoral opportunities for candidates of different personal wealth.” But the court baldly asserted that this is not “a legitimate government objective.”