Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy have shown the most skepticism.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who supported Buckley's contribution limits as an associate justice in 1976, and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor have tended to occupy a middle position. In 2000, they voted with the liberals in favor of a Missouri law that set limits on campaign contributions, reaffirming Buckley's holding that preventing the appearance of corruption is a sufficient rationale for regulation.
At the heart of the case headed toward the court now, however, are the questions of soft money and issue ads, neither of which the court has confronted since Buckley.
All told, though, there are more than 20 issues rolled into the mammoth case -- including such provisions of the law as a "millionaire's exemption" to contribution limits and a ban on donations by minors. Any one of these would have made for a significant Supreme Court case on its own. Yet the court must resolve them all at once.
Buckley, which also dealt with a multi-provision statute, was a formidable drafting task for the court. By the time the eight justices were done (Stevens, then a newcomer to the court, did not participate), they had produced a 138-page opinion for the court, plus 83 pages' worth of concurring and dissenting opinions.
The justices of the time dealt with the job by dividing the ruling into chapters, each assigned to a different member of the court. Having heard four hours of oral argument on Nov. 10, 1975, the court managed to get its opinions out the door by Jan. 30, 1976 -- an 81-day turnaround.