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December 22, 2006

A Victory For Free Speech

by Doug Mataconis

A Federal Appeals Court has ruled that a loophole in the McCain-Feingold law allows issue advocacy ads to run during an election campaign:

A divided three-judge court ruled yesterday that ads advocating for an issue and mentioning candidates can run during an election, creating a loophole in the law that sought to control the power of big money in elections.

In a 2 to 1 ruling, the court found that the government had no compelling justification to regulate television ads such as the ones Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. broadcast in July 2004, which advocated stopping congressional filibusters against President Bush’s judicial nominees.

The ads ran when Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) was running for reelection and had opposed some of Bush’s nominees. The ads made no mention of Feingold’s record, instead urging Wisconsin residents to call their senators to express their dissatisfaction.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, joined by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David B. Sentelle, agreed with Wisconsin Right to Life that ads such as theirs merely advocate a position without trying to criticize the record of a particular candidate.

Not as good as declaring the whole monstrosity that is McCain-Feingold unconstitutional, but it’s a start.

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