Another Radical Decision.
The quiet revolution is well underway, and I don't know how many people are watching. The addition of two courtly gents--smiles and soft voices successfully defanging their critics--has turned the Supremes into an incubator of radical law. They handed down their latest ruling today:
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to efforts to reduce the role of money in political campaigns, striking down Vermont caps on contributions and candidate spending....Last week, they ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Clean Water Act is bogus:
Vermont's contribution limits were $200 for state House campaigns per two-year election cycle, $300 for state Senate races and $400 for statewide offices. The spending limits ranged from $2,000 for state representative candidates to $300,000 for those running for governor....
The ruling is a victory for the Republican Party, which backed the challenge to the Vermont law. It represents something of a shift for the high court, which in 2003 upheld a sweeping federal overhaul that included a ban on unregulated ``soft money'' contributions to political parties for campaign ads.
In yesterday's ruling, a five-justice majority agreed that the Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency on wetlands regulation, exceeded its authority when it denied two Michigan developers permits to build on wetlands. The court said the Corps had gone beyond the Clean Water Act by making landowners obtain permits to dump rocks and dirt not only in marshes directly next to lakes and rivers but also in areas linked to larger bodies of water only through a network of ditches and drains.For those of you scoring at home, those are fairly "activist" decisions. In one case, state legislators--and a lower court ruling--are subverted in a law that benefits wealthy benefactors to the GOP. In the second case, US legislators' actions were subverted so that--well, so that wealthy benefactors to the GOP might continue to line their pockets at the expense of the plebian majority who would like the environment less studded with obscene snout houses.
There are several other major decisions headed down the pike this year--the Texas gerrymander, military tribunals, privacy rights--and they may all do more to reshape the landscape of American life than the entire Reagan-through-Bush congressional revolution. If these early signals are any sign, it may be a grim generation.