Several Supreme Court justices on Tuesday expressed concern that a U.S. campaign finance law placed unfair burdens on wealthy, self-funded congressional candidates.
The court considered a challenge to a provision, known as the “millionaire’s amendment,” that Congress adopted as part of the 2002 campaign finance law to level the playing field for candidates with rich opponents who could spend large amounts of their own money.
It allows congressional candidates to accept higher contributions when they face wealthy self-funded opponents and is part of the McCain-Feingold law, named for Sens. Russell Feingold and John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate.
The court’s decision, expected by the end of June, could affect the congressional elections in November, especially those races in which self-funded candidates are running.
Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia appeared most concerned about the law. He said previous limits upheld by the court have been designed to prevent corruption.
“There is no anti-corruption rationale here. The only purpose of this is to level the playing field. And I am deeply suspicious of allowing elections to be conducted under a regime whereby Congress levels the playing field. That seems to be very dangerous,” Scalia said.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the decisive vote on the court closely divided between conservative and liberal factions, seemed troubled by a provision that limits political party contributions to self-funded candidates.
“It’s of great concern to me because it puts this court … in the position of preferring one kind of speech over another. And we simply do not do that,” Kennedy said.