...McCain-Feingold, in virtually all of its particulars, violates "bedrock constitutional principles" such as free speech, free association, and limited federal power. McCain-Feingold Challengers File Opening Briefs in Supreme Court

The first shots in the High Court battle over the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 were fired Tuesday when attorneys for Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Center for Individual Freedom and the other plaintiffs challenging the law filed their opening briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Emphasizing the blatant unconstitutionality of McCain-Feingold’s campaign finance restrictions, the opening brief of the lead plaintiffs, including the Center for Individual Freedom, explains that, "[f]ar from merely closing loopholes, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) wholly rewrites our Nation’s campaign finance laws and works nothing less than a fundamental reordering of our political process."

"With its encroachments on the activities of actors at all levels of the political process, BCRA cannot be justified without abandoning th[e] first principle of uninhibited, robust debate," the brief argues. "Equally disturbing, BCRA regulates different actors in the political process, and different types of speech, in disparate fashion, without advancing any legitimate justification for doing so. It disadvantages political parties in comparison with interest groups; television stations in comparison with newspapers; and so-called ‘attack ads’ in comparison with other ads. … Ultimately, the Constitution demands that this Court err on the side of protecting more speech, not less. As the Court noted almost two decades ago, ‘[t]he fact that candidates and elected officials may alter or reaffirm their own positions in response to political messages … can hardly be called corruption, for one of the essential features of democracy is the presentation to the electorate of varying points of view.’"

The brief goes on to explain why McCain-Feingold, in virtually all of its particulars, violates "bedrock constitutional principles" such as free speech, free association, and limited federal power.

The war of words will continue when the federal government and the other parties defending the law file their responses on August 5. The challengers will then have one last chance to reply in writing on August 21, just two-and-a-half weeks before the Court hears oral arguments in a special four hour session on September 8.

To read the opening brief filed by the lead plaintiffs, including the Center for Individual Freedom, click here.

July 10, 2003
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