Author: Rory B. Bellows
While D.C. v. Heller was the most publicized decison handed down last Thursday, the Supreme Court made two other decisions that affirmed the first amendment right to free speech and the sixth amendment right to face your accuser.
In a 6-3 ruling the Supreme Court held that a defendant’s 6th amendment rights were violated when prosecutors introduced statements made by the murder victim because the defendant had no way to prove them untrue by confronting his accuser. Since this case revolved around a domestic violence dispute it would have been easy enough for the Court to play to the New York Times crowd and affirm the man’s conviction, but, and this is the only time I’ll probably say this, Justices Souter and Ginsberg were able to ignore politics and emotion and join with Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito’s strict constructionist analysis.
The second case the Court deserves props for was a decision that overturned the Millionaire’s Amendment in McCain-Feingold. This amendment was added to the 2002 McCain-Feingold law after Jon Corzine spent $60 million dollars of his own money in his, unfortunately, successful 2000 United States Senate Campaign. If you needed any more evidence that so-called campaign finance laws exist only to ensure that incumbents keep their seats, this is it.
The amendment states that the individual contribution limit would be tripled for candidates facing self funders. The Supreme Court correctly noted that having one set of contribution limits for one group of candidates and another for a different group violated the first amendment rights of self funding candidates. The majority opinion was written by Justice Alito and he said “If the normally applicable limits on individual contributions … are feeding a public perception that wealthy people can buy seats in Congress, and if those limits are not needed in order to combat corruption, then the obvious remedy is to raise or eliminate those limits.”
Here is to hoping the eliminate them. Money is speech and the first amendment clearly states “Congress shall make no law…”