Today, the Supreme Court overruled a district and appellate court and allowed issue ads within the "window". Stated intelligibly, issue ads will not be regulated. However, it looks like a fairly narrow ruling:
The Court issued its fifth ruling of the day, concluding that a Wisconsin abortion rights group had a First Amendment right to aid during election season campaign ads that named a candidate running for the Senate. Three of the five Justices in the majority urged the Court to overturn the part of a 2003 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the federal law restricting such radio and TV ads close to elections. The Chief Justice’s main opinion, joined fully by Justice Alito, said the case did not provide an occasion to revisit that ruling. Justice Souter recited at length from the bench for the four dissenters — who were in the minority in four of the five rulings on Monday. The ruling came in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-969) and a companion case.
Presumably this means that there will be no challenges to the issue ads, while BCRA will stay on the books. And, presumably, NRLC and Jim Bopp will try to find another way to challenge the new status quo to continue to undermine BCRA. Who knows how this will play out.
As I have indicated previously, it seems clear that allowing these ads was the constitutional thing to do. Good for the court. It will be interesting to see how conservative pundits discuss this. I could see a lot of dissatisfaction with how narrow and respectful of precedent it is. Will this be an indicator for Alito and Roberts judgments in the future? Will that become an issue?