McConnell v. FEC, handed down December 10, 2003, uheld the key political speech restricting of McCain Feingold, is back before the SCOTUS. That 6-3 decision (Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy dissenting on the key provisions) is in trouble, howevere, as it lost one of its majority with the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist, and another, Justice O’Connor, is on the brink of retirement. While Senate delaying kept Judge Alito from hearing the arguments Tuesday, look for this case to be put over for reargument, and perhaps the outrage against Free Speech that is McCain-Feingold can be struck down at least in part by this time next year, and an era of immunity from criticism for elected officials in the 60 days prior to votes on their re-election will come to a end.
Chief Justice Roberts sounded a skeptical note about such restrictions during oral arguments Tuesday. If Judge Alito brings the same skepticism to the bench when he becomes Justice Alito, a big win for freedom is in the offing.