It would be fair to say that reaction fell along Party lines when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law Thursday. By and large, Democrats were outraged at the decision and Republicans were pleased. Although, there were a few interesting revelations.
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), for example, was one Republican to publicly declare her unease with the decision. Snowe said she was “deeply troubled” by the ruling. “The effects of the decision will be to undermine existing law, flood the airwaves with corporate and union advertisements and undercut landmark reforms that I and many others fought to secure to put elections back in the hands of the American people. Today’s decision was a serious disservice to our country.”
Also noticeable, was the complete lack of official comment from some of the GOP leaders. Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) didn’t even release a statement on the ruling, yet they hurried to comment on Republican Scott Brown’s electoral victory in Massachusetts just two days prior.
But leave it to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) to give the most colorful commentary on the Court’s ruling. Said Grayson, “This is the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case.” In case you’re not familiar, Dred Scott was a slave back in the Civil War era who sued for his freedom, albeit unsuccessfully. Grayson went on that the Court “decided to protect the rights of GE, Volkswagen, Lukoil and Aramco, at the expense of our right to good government. If we do nothing, then before long, …there will be Senators from Citibank and Walmart. Maybe they will wear insignias on their $500 suits, like NASCAR drivers do.”
Grayson didn’t just sound off vocally about the Court’s ruling. The decision prompted the Florida lawmaker to introduce 6 new bills as part of his “Save Our Democracy” Reform Package. With House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) as a co-sponsor of the legislation, the package covers everything from prohibiting corporations that contribute to political campaigns from trading their stock on national exchanges, to limiting the amount of money individual employees working at those corporations that receive government funds can contribute to candidates.
Grayson, never one to mince words, accused the Supreme Court in its ruling of “opening the door to political bribery and corruption.” He even channeled Teddy Roosevelt in his anger saying, “Property belongs to man, and not man to property.”
The Court ruled 5-4 on the McCain-Feingold law, with Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.