The Spectacle Blog

Free Speech Victory

By on 6.26.06 | 2:49PM

The Supreme Court today struck down Vermont's excessively restrictive campaign finance law, by a 6-3 vote (Randall v. Sorrell). Breyer joins the usual group of five: Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy.

Despite that unlikely grouping, the opinions are scattershot. The plurality (Breyer and Roberts) argues that the Vermont law fails to meet the principles set forth in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), and upholds that precedent. Alito concurs in part with the plurality, but differs where it speaks highly of stare decisis and the Buckley precedent. But since respondents did not fully make the case that the Court should revisit Buckley, he would not consider it.

Alito's opinion, combined with the Kennedy and Thomas/Scalia opinions, show a growing consensus on the Court at least to overturn McCain-Feingold (McConnell v. FEC). Kennedy has no time for the Court-created campaign finance "legal universe": "On a broader, systemic level political parties have been denied basic First Amendment rights." And Thomas/Scalia: "...stare decisis should pose no bar to overruling Buckley and replacing it with a standard faithful to the First Amendment."

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