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Monday, June 25, 2007

Court Sense

Evidently judges are exercising common sense; well except on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where it's been outlawed as unfair to stupid people.

Today the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment actually does apply, even during an election season; so long as you aren't running campaign ads. Okay, so they need a little more common sense to finish McCain-Feingold completely, but at least they've started.

The ruling is actually much more narrowly focused than some groups would have you believe. It did nothing to allow a direct attack ad during the last 60 days of a campaign. Instead, what they've said is you can mention a candidate, by name, during the 60 day "free from speech" window if you don't advocate voting for or against them. In fact, in the ruling Chief Justice Roberts gave a litmus test for how to interpret the ruling against McCain-Feingold:
"A court should find that an ad is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate."
The issue came up because Wisconsin Right To Life ran an ad asking constituents to call Russ Feingold (of McCain-Feingold fame) and tell him to stop filibustering judicial nominees. They didn't say vote for or against him, just call and tell him to let judges get a vote. And they ended up in court for it, because it was within 60 days of the election.

Charlie Sykes points out that some folks are getting a little unhinged over the decision, specifically The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. They even quote Lincoln about the take over of the country by corporations. Never mind the quote wasn't from Lincoln, it was a forgery, they still use it to try and get shock value from the uneducated masses.

I found their overall critique of the ruling hillarious, this quote especially:
The court’s narrow majority has begun unraveling McCain-Feingold and has reopened the door to the dishonest sleight of hand special interests engage in
to evade disclosure requirements and limitations on campaign contributions. Today’s decision is a step back toward the time before the enactment of McCain-Feingold when special interests were deemed free to keep the public in the dark about who is paying for their federal electioneering in order to sidestep the national ban on corporate and labor union treasury donations.
Um, excuse me folks, but I'm sure that MoveOn.Org, Swift Boat Veterans, and other 527 groups, HAVEN'T released their donor lists yet. The idea that McCain-Feingold somehow brought the money out of the shadows isn't just a little stretch of the truth, it's a whopper of a lie! If anything McCain Feingold has made it harder to track where the money in politics comes from. When a donor the size of George Soros gave money to a campaign directly it was reported to the FEC. In the 527 world donor names aren't a requirement, just a basic cashflow statement.
In a less far reaching decision, Washington DC Judge Judith Bartnoth ruled that a dry cleaner does not owe $54 million dollars for a customer who wasn't satisfied, even though they had a "satisfaction guaranteed" sign in the window.
"A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands or
to accede to demands that the merchant has reasonable grounds to dispute,"

She awarded nothing to Roy Pearson, told him to pay the court costs (about a grand) and will rule separately on a request to have him reimburse the cleaners for their legal expenses. Hopefully she trebles the cost of that as damages, just to make the point to Judge Roy.

Technorati Tags: Supreme Court, Wisconsin Right To Life, McCain, Feingold, First Amendment, Dry Cleaners, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

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