WASHINGTON – Callengers and supporters of a new campaign finance law (search) found something to like in a 1,700-page court ruling that struck down much of the statute. But both sides agree that any jubilation or disappointment may be temporary, since the nation's final arbiter -- the Supreme Court (search) -- will have the last word.
Two House sponsors of the law that was partially struck down Friday said they'll ask the court to place the ruling on hold immediately.
Rep. Martin Meehan (search), D-Mass., said, "The reality is, the decision may confuse some of the issues related to the bill. Therefore I think an injunction, until the Supreme Court makes a decision, would be the proper step to take at this point." Rep. Christopher Shays (search), R-Conn., the co-author, agreed.
Both said they were pleased the court didn't strike down all the bill's restrictions on the use of soft money -- the big, unlimited corporate and union donations to political parties.
"This case has always been headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I look forward to leading the effort to make our case there," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who fought the legislation in the Senate, led the court challenge and pronounced himself gratified with Friday's ruling.
In a 2-1 decision, the court panel struck down most of a ban on use of the unlimited contributions. The court also ruled unconstitutional new restrictions on election-time political ads by special-interest groups and others but said more narrow limits in the legislation were constitutional.
The chief Senate sponsors of the legislation, Republican John McCain of Arizona and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, said they were pleased with the ruling overall but added it could "create serious loopholes that undermine the law's effectiveness."
"We thought the court might strike the whole thing down. ... This is better than I expected," Feingold said.
Several Democratic presidential candidates, rather than declare victory, expressed their disappointment.
"We'll look for a better result from the Supreme Court," said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
"I'm disappointed that any aspect of this well-crafted law would be struck down by the court," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.
At the White House, spokeswoman Claire Buchan said, "The president supports campaign finance reform, signed it into law, and we will be reviewing this."
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, said he wasn't surprised the restrictions were struck down.
"The bans they put in there were nothing but incumbent protection tools," said Ney, who backed an alternative that would have limited soft money but not banned it.
Marc Racicot, chairman of the Republican National Committee and a challenger of the law, said he considered the ruling "a positive first step in addressing our concerns regarding equal access of all Americans to engage in protected political speech."