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Monday, January 16, 2006

Law - U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments tomorrow in Wisconsin Right to Life

Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. v. Federal Election Commission will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 17th. This is one of two campaign finance cases granted cert by the Court this term in which Terre Haute attorney James Bopp, Jr. is lead counsel.

The Christian Science Monitor for 1/17/06 story is headlined "A key campaign-finance law is back in the high court Tuesday, as interest groups challenge a rule on election-season ads." Here are a few quotes from this comprehensive coverage:

Tuesday the Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to a portion of the law that bars corporations and unions from placing broadcast advertisements that mention a candidate by name. The ban on so-called electioneering communications can extend for up to three months prior to an election.

At issue in Wisconsin Right To Life v. Federal Election Commission is whether the campaign-finance law applies only to ads aimed at influencing elections or whether it also bans broadcast ads meant to influence the legislative process and the work of Congress in the often-critical weeks before an election. The suit asks whether corporations and unions interested in lobbying rather than electioneering are nonetheless barred from placing broadcast ads that mention a candidate.

"There is a huge difference between electioneering and lobbying," says James Bopp, who is arguing the case on behalf of Wisconsin Right To Life Inc.

Solicitor General Paul Clement disagrees. He says such lobbying efforts carried out on the eve of an election amount to "dual purpose" communications. Because such lobbying cannot easily be separated from electioneering, both are regulated under the law, he says.

"A group that feels strongly enough about an issue to air an advertisement on it in the months before an election ... will invariably have a view as to which candidates may be more favorably disposed to the group's view of the issue," Mr. Clement writes in his brief.

See this Jan. 7, 2006 ILB entry for more.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 16, 2006 05:52 PM
Posted to General Law Related