Arrogant, naïve and stupid.
Those are the words Sen. John McCain used to describe the Supreme Court 2010 decision that overturned major portions of the campaign finance law he championed.
The former Republican presidential nominee was participating in a discussion about the proliferation of money in politics hosted by Reuters at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and showed no love for even the conservative justices he had voted for. He has often spoken out against the Supreme Court ruling, referred to as the "Citizens United" decision, which opened the door for unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions. But the veteran senator used particularly fiery language on Tuesday.
"What the Supreme Court did is a combination of arrogance, naiveté and stupidity the likes of which I have never seen," he said. "It's pretty obvious by the sarcasm from people like [Antonin] Scalia and the absolute naiveté of people I voted for to be members of the Supreme Court, like [Chief Justice John] Roberts and [Samuel] Alito and others, that they had no idea what political campaigns are about. They were incredibly naïve. Since when is a corporation a person?"
The court's majority opinion held, among other things, that the portion of McCain's campaign finance law that banned unlimited donations by corporations to political action committees was a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution that guarantees free speech, concluding that corporations could not be treated any differently than individuals.
McCain also took shots at President Obama for turning down public financing for his presidential campaign against McCain despite promising he would.
And although he vowed to keep trying to reform the campaign finance system, he was not optimistic.
"I've got to wait until we think that we can pass legislation and I'm not sure right now, frankly, that we could get it passed," he said. "I think there is probably a majority of Republicans right now that would vote against it because Republicans are profiting by it and there'll be a lot of Democrats who don't want to take it up."
McCain warned it will take a scandal to prompt further reforms.
"I promise you there will be huge scandals because there's too much money washing around, too much of it we don't know who contributed it and there's too much corruption associated with that kind of money," McCain said. "It's going to take a scandal. And there will be one. I tell you right now there will be one."
- Read: Obama Gains Fundraising Momentum
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy
- Follow U.S. News Debate Club on Twitter