Why It Matters
          By ANTHONY LEWIS of the New York Whore Times

          If George W. Bush is elected, one probable result will be to put
          meaningful campaign finance reform off indefinitely. That is not only
          because Governor Bush is opposed to serious change in the system.
          It is because of the appointments he is likely to make to the Supreme Court,
          which has the last word on whether and how campaign spending can be limited.

          That reality poses a hard question for Ralph Nader and his supporters. Mr.
          Nader has quite rightly called for an end to the obscene race for money
          that now marks political campaigns in this country. Yet he tells his rallies
          that there is no real difference between Governor Bush and Al Gore,
          ignoring the profound impact a Bush-appointed Supreme Court would have
          on the chance for reform.

          Campaign finance is one example, among many, of large issues on which a
          future Supreme Court could make a great difference and on which Mr.
          Nader has hypocritically ignored reality in saying that the two major candidates
          are the same. I say hypocritically because he is too smart not to know what he is doing.

          The environment is another telling example.
          Mr. Nader is the candidate of the Green Party, and his calls for protecting
          the environment mean a lot to his audiences.

          But conservative legal theory advanced by judicial appointees of Presidents
          Reagan and Bush is a forbidding obstacle to national environmental regulation.
          Some of those judges, in the Federal Courts of Appeals, have found regulations invalid
          either because Congress delegated rule-making power to administrative agencies
          which is the only way regulating gets done or because the rules went beyond
          federal power over interstate commerce.

          Campaign finance reform would be impossible if the views of Supreme
          Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas whom Governor
          Bush has called his models prevailed. They wrote last January that any
          limits on either campaign spending or contributions violated the First
          Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

          I do not believe that there is only one possible answer to questions that are
          put to the Supreme Court. Justice William J. Brennan Jr. used to say that
          his colleagues, agreeing or disagreeing, had the same commitment to the
          Constitution that he did. The questions are hard, and the answers all in
          good faith are bound to differ.

          Nor do I believe that George W. Bush has fixed, extremist views on the law.
          He does not seem to have thought deeply about the kinds of questions that go
          into the appointment of Supreme Court justices. In Texas, judges are elected.
          Governor Bush has filled vacancies, however, and his appointees on the whole
          are respected judges, conservative but eschewing the extreme.

          But the realities of the Republican Party these days the highly
          conservative party it has become will severely limit a President George
          W. Bush's choices if and when Supreme Court vacancies arise. The right
          will expect nominees who reliably embrace its views.

          Governor Bush is surely aware of the bitterness on the right about one of
          his father's choices, Justice David Souter. In the primary campaign Steve
          Forbes, opposing Governor Bush, said, "America simply cannot afford
          another Supreme Court justice like David Souter."

          Abortion is the prime issue for the right. Mr. Bush has said he would not
          make it a litmus test that his nominees would overrule Roe v. Wade. But in
          practice that will surely be a consideration. A leading anti-abortion figure,
          Gary Bauer, said on NBC's "Today" show the other day that if Mr. Bush
          became president and had more than one vacancy to fill on the Supreme
          Court, it was likely that "Roe v. Wade would be overturned."

          All this makes Ralph Nader's performance cynical. He knows better than
          most people what a difference a Bush or Gore presidency could make in
          the Supreme Court. Yet he gives the impression, as a Wall Street Journal
          report put it, that "he would be happy to cause a Gore defeat." And Mr.
          Nader is campaigning hard in states where his support could cost Mr. Gore
          the electoral vote. Yesterday he was in Iowa, a toss-up state.

          The fundamental domestic issue in this election, I believe, is the future of
          the Supreme Court. Policy on taxes and the like is transitory; it can be
          quickly changed. The justices may be there for decades.

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