Justices Doubtful About Campaign Ad Restriction

Several justices showed little enthusiasm today for a federal law that restricts TV ads by unions and businesses in the weeks before an election, SCOTUSblog reports.

The appeal began as a challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 as it was applied, but now it seeks to overrule the 2003 case upholding the law, McConnell v. Federal Election Commission.

In oral arguments (PDF) today, Justice Antonin Scalia told Solicitor General Paul Clement that he wasn’t being persuasive, according to the blog.

“This is the First Amendment,” Scalia said. “We don’t make people guess whether their speech is going to be allowed by Big Brother or not. If you are going to cut off the speech, there ought to be a clear line … and you’re not giving us any.”

The arguments are in a consolidated appeal of two cases: FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life and McCain v. Wisconsin Right to Life.

Law professor Rick Hasen of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles offers his thoughts on the arguments at his blog.

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