Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Grassroots Organizations Fight for Right to Run Ads

Supreme Court must decide if campaign finance laws unfairly limit free speech.

From "Grassroots Organizations Fight for Right to Run Ads" by Wendy Cloyd, posted 4/25/07 at

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in challenges to the campaign finance reform law.

The McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 prevents groups from running ads that mention a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) filed suit seeking to run ads during the blackout periods.

Jim Bopp, lead counsel for WRTL, said the First Amendment protects the right of citizens to criticize their government.

“During these blackout periods – when it’s a federal crime to mention the name of a candidate in a broadcast – Congress is in session and they’re voting on extremely important matters,” he said. “Incumbent members of Congress are trying to get a 'twofer.' They passed this law, which prohibits election-related ads, and now they would like to see it apply to grassroots lobbying.”

Bopp said that's contrary to assurances that McCain-Feingold would not affect the grassroots.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said McCain-Feingold intrudes heavily upon the right of grassroots groups to comment on issues before Congress.

“Even assuming, for the moment, that the law has a legitimate purpose -- which is arguable at best -- it goes way beyond anything reasonable,” Hausknecht said. “It tramples on the free-speech rights of grassroots organizations, preventing citizens from getting valuable information they need to know at the critical moment when Congress is debating an issue.”

He said he hopes the Court takes the necessary action to restore the pre-eminence of political speech in the public square.

Read the rest of the article.