Supreme Court hears Vermont Campaign Finance Case

I was the statistical expert for this case when it heard at the lower court in Vermont, so I am particularly interested in seeing what happens. It would be neat to win such a case, and I heard that the arguments went well today.

The U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to rewrite the legal rules for election spending and fund raising in a dispute over the nation's strictest campaign- finance limits.

The justices today will hear arguments in Washington on a 1997 Vermont law, signed by then-Governor Howard Dean, that caps candidate spending and limits contributions to as little as $200 per election cycle for each candidate. A Republican-backed suit says the limits violate constitutional free-speech rights.

The case marks the first major test on the subject for the court's newest members, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. The dispute offers the court a chance to revise its landmark 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which authorized limits only on contributions, not on spending.

``Just limiting contributions leaves untouched one of the core problems, which is the pressure that candidates face when they can never stop fund raising,'' said Brenda Wright, a lawyer for the Boston-based National Voting Rights Institute, which represents voters supporting the law. . . .

`The voters are entitled and need to hear from candidates because they are the ones who ultimately take office,'' said Bopp, general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech in Terre Haute, Indiana. ``When you limit spending by candidates, you limit their opportunities to communicate to the voters.'' . . .


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