Because the sponsors recognized that the BCRA would likely be challenged in court, a provision was included that allowed for an expedited court review process. A three-judge federal panel in Washington, DC, would first hear legal challenges to BCRA, and the ruling of the panel would be subject to direct review by the US Supreme Court.
The same day that BCRA came into effect, Senator Mitch McConnell challenged its constitutionality in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, in which the US Supreme Court found that the government had a substantial interest in preventing corruption that was proven by an overwhelming amount of evidence. The ban on soft money was upheld, as was most of the BRCA, including the limitations imposed on electioneering communications, as the government had an interest in eliminating ads that were designed to look like issue ads but were actually designed to favor a particular candidate. Justice Scalia dissented, however, stating that limiting candidates in the amount of assistance they can receive is actually a limit on the candidate's fundamental right to free speech.
In Federal Election Commission v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL), a nonprofit corporation under Massachusetts law, sought to make expenditures to urge voters to support pro-life candidates. In the case, the US Supreme Court examined whether MCFL's expenditures fell under the BCRA's expenditure ban and, if so, whether this law, as applied to MCFL, was valid. The Court found that even if MCFL did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, its pamphlets and message urging voters to support pro-life candidates constituted a form of "express advocacy" that was within the range of activities proscribed by this section of the law. However, the Court ruled that the BCRA, as applied to MCFL, was unconstitutional, noting that MCFL's expenditures were the type of independent expenditures described in Buckley and protected by the First Amendment's free speech protections.