The Hill's Baker Hints Conservative Justices Opposed to Thwarting Corruption

October 8th, 2013 4:58 PM

Ideologically-driven conservatives on the Supreme Court seem determined to nix a campaign contribution limit in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, thus dealing a blow to the fight against corruption of American politics.

That's the implication of The Hill's Sam Baker in his report, "Justices clash over campaign finance law," published shortly after the Court heard oral arguments this morning in McCutcheon v. FEC (emphasis mine):

A sharply divided Supreme Court clashed Tuesday over campaign finance law, as the court’s conservatives pressed aggressively to lift certain restrictions.

The court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a challenge to campaign finance laws that limit the total amount of money one individual can contribute in each election cycle.

The Republican National Committee and one of its wealthy donors urged the court to strike down the restrictions, calling them a violation of the First Amendment.

Several of the court’s traditionally conservative members appeared to agree, waving off the Justice Department’s warnings about the risk of corruption.


If the court strikes down the aggregate limits, individuals would be able to donate more than $3.6 million to candidates and party committees every two years — a flood of money that the Obama administration said would open the door to corruption.

“If you give $3.5 million, you get a very, very special seat at the table,” Justice Elena Kagan said during Tuesday’s arguments.

Baker's liberal use of loaded language is in service of a pro-regulation narrative, not in the interests of dispassionately reporting on the oral arguments made at the Court this morning.

Even so, it's not so surprising that conservative jurists would react "aggressively" to a restriction of an individual's free speech rights. Donation of campaign money is an act of political speech, and restricting a person from giving to as many political candidates as he or she so chooses is to move to restrict speech, something directly in contravention of the Constitution's First Amendment.

Conservatives on the court are no less interested than their liberal colleagues in combating corruption, it's just that they wish to do so within constitutional boundaries and honestly believe that campaign contribution limits may transgress those boundaries.

The Hill owes it to its readers to provide more objective coverage of the Court.

P.S.: The Hill published Baker's piece in its Ballot Box blog, which is devoted to campaign news coverage. Indeed, it appears does NOT have a blog devoted to the federal judiciary.