Supreme Court to Hear Case That Could Remake Federal Election Rules
For some legal experts, the most important part of the Court’s ruling on campaign finance reform is the fact that the justices could potentially reshape the nation’s election laws as they were written decades ago.
The justices have asked lawyers for the public and Congress to submit arguments, and they’re expected to rule on Monday.
The decision is shaping up to be quite significant.
“The justices are doing an extraordinary thing, rewriting the rules of campaign finance. It’s going to open up a can of worms in terms of campaign finance laws and regulations,” said Robert Bauer, a former top election official in Illinois and Michigan and the author of several books on election law.
Bauer expects the Supreme Court to rule that campaign giving can no longer be limited to individuals, but he expects it to do more than that.
“I think they are going to make it illegal for candidates to give corporate money to their own campaigns and/or to candidates they are backing,” Bauer said.
What’s more, the Court may also ban independent campaign groups from running ads that mention specific races in an election in which the outcome is in doubt, in order to prevent the candidates being influenced by outside money.
Here is a look at a few of the legal implications of the court’s decision on campaign finance, along with what they could mean for our democracy.
Elections Are about Choice, Not Wealth
It was a close call for the U.S. Supreme Court when the country was deciding the constitutionality of a constitutional amendment that would have ended many of the major distinctions between the political parties. That amendment, known as the National Voting Rights Act, was passed in 1965 after it was determined that black citizens were being “excluded by reason of race or color” from the political process. In 1962, the court ruled in the landmark case Baker v. Carr that state-sponsored political parties were illegal, and that the primary and general elections for those parties had to be open to everyone, regardless of what party they belonged to.