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McCain: 'Regrettable' decision

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday called the Supreme Court’s decision to weaken part of his campaign finance law “regrettable.”

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However, the presidential hopeful pointed out that the 5-4 decision leaves intact the main part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, most commonly referred to as McCain-Feingold.

“It is regrettable that a split Supreme Court has carved out a narrow exception by which some corporate and labor expenditures can be used to target a federal candidate in the days and weeks before an election,” McCain said. “It is important to recognize, however, that the Court’s decision does not affect the principal provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which bans federal officeholders from soliciting soft money contributions for their parties to spend on their campaigns.”

The court weakened a provision in the law that strictly limited ads paid for with corporate and union money within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election. It ruled that the law violated the First Amendment rights of Wisconsin Right to Life, which was prevented from running ads urging voters to contact Democratic Sens. Herb Kohl (Wis.) and Russ Feingold (Wis.) about a filibuster of judicial nominees. 

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion that called for striking down any restrictions on corporate and union funded advertising within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election, but their views did not attract majority support. 

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one of McCain’s main rivals for the GOP nomination, was quick to seize on the decision and made sure that voters knew it was a provision in the Arizona senator’s law that was struck down.

Score one for free speech,” Romney said. “Today the Supreme Court reaffirmed the First Amendment by rejecting a key feature of McCain-Feingold.  The law trampled the basic right of the American people to participate in their democracy. It also purported to reduce the influence of money in politics, but we now know that influence is greater than ever.

“McCain-Feingold was a poorly crafted bill,” Romney added. “Today’s decision restores, in part, to the American people a right critical to their freedom of political participation and expression.”