Saturday, January 12, 2008

McCain Tried to Silence Right to Life

It is well worth remembering that Senator John McCain's signature legislative achievement is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act. This bill imposed a maze of regulations that restrict the right of free speech. A large majority of Republicans in Congress voted against this bill. The Supreme Court eventually upheld most of it, but the conservative judges (Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist) all wrote that it is unconstitutional.

Perhaps the worst feature of this bill is that it bans advertisements to lobby Congress within 30 or 60 days of an election. This article reveals that McCain supported the suppression of the speech of Wisconsin Right to Life.


Yet it is the most well-known legislative achievement of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who is, after all a legislator and not Secretary of State or Secretary of the Defense. People may like his approach to foreign policy or national defense, but his primary job over the past quarter century has been to make laws for the United States. And if "McCain-Feingold" is his legislative showpiece, you may wonder what the losers were like.

For those who may have forgotten the import of McCain-Feingold, it imposed restrictions on political spending that were supposed to reduce the corrupting influence of money on political campaigns. It placed limits on "soft" money that parties could contribute to individual candidates, along with restrictions on spending by unions and corporations, though "corporations" is a very broad term.

A political action committee is a corporation, usually registered as such with the state in which it operates. The Wisconsin Right to Life Committee, Inc. is such a corporation. In the fall of 2006, Wisconsin Right to Life sought to run political advertisements calling on the state’s two U.S. senators, Herb Kohl and Russell Feingold, to oppose filibusters and other procedural delays of votes on President Bush’s judicial nominees. The ads were ruled a violation of the McCain-Feingold law by the Federal Elections Commission because it mentioned both senators by name within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election in which one of them (Feingold) was a candidate for election.


But when Wisconsin Right to Life challenged the FEC ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. John McCain did not say, "Wait a minute! This kind of prohibition is not at all what we meant when we wrote and passed McCain-Feingold." On the contrary, he filed an amicus curiae argument in support of the FEC position.


Yet McCain apparently believes that in campaign finance reform there is a higher law than the Constitution – there is the McCain standard of purity.

"Obviously, from what we've been seeing lately, we didn't complete the job," McCain said about campaign financing when interviewed on radio by Don Imus in the spring of 2006. "But I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."

McCain is entitled to his own personal "rathers," but as a United States Senator his oath of office requires him to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not his righteous concept of cleanliness. His attitude toward the First Amendment is nothing if not arrogant. And more arrogance in disregard of the requirements written into the Bill of Rights is not what we need in the White House at any time, but especially after eight years of the Bush-Cheney regime. We don’t need John McCain in the Oval Office, attempting to "complete the job" of emasculating the First Amendment.

No comments: