On March 27, 2002, President George W. Bush privately, without ceremony or even a publicly released photograph signed into law the bill commonly referred to as "campaign finance reform" the most extensive and insidious assault on political speech ever ventured in the U.S.
Lawsuits were filed immediately, most prominently by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has for years spearheaded the vigorous and articulate opposition to this misguided legislation in Congress. Senator McConnells initial complaint charges that the law contains extensive violations of the Constitution, restricting "the ways that citizens, corporations, labor unions, trade associations, officeholders, candidates, advocacy groups, tax-exempt organizations, and national, state, and local political party committees are permitted to participate in our Nations democratic process." To read the complaint in its entirety, click here.
A distinguished legal team of constitutional and federal election law attorneys, led by Kenneth W. Starr, has been assembled by Senator McConnell, who anticipates the addition of a wide variety of co-plaintiffs. The Center for Individual Freedom will be one of those, and will be represented by the Southeastern Legal Foundation.
"We have long anticipated this lawsuit," said Eric Schippers, Executive Director of the Center. "It will be a watershed event in constitutional law, and at the very least will define those restrictions on political speech that are permissible and those, if any, that are not. We are honored and grateful to be represented by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, with which we share many values, including the supremacy of the Constitution.
"The Center for Individual Freedom enters this lawsuit for three reasons: First, as a non-profit, non-partisan corporation actively engaged in public issues discussions, the Centers own voice would be severely restricted and, in some circumstances, silenced by this law. Second, because of the unconstitutional restraints on the political speech of all those enumerated by Senator McConnell, regardless of political orientation, ideology or position. Defending the Constitution against such infringements is what we do every day. Third, this law has been portrayed as something it is not and is poorly understood for what it is. We believe the courts will reinstate the constitutional principles, including clarity, which the politicians and the media supporting this law have abandoned."
While the McConnell lawsuit will serve as the vehicle for numerous co-plaintiffs in an effort of considerable scope and focus, the National Rifle Association has filed a separate lawsuit, and others are anticipated. Under guidelines for legal challenges set by the law itself, all lawsuits will likely be consolidated and will be tried before a three-judge panel, with expedited review by the U.S. Supreme Court.April 4, 2002