Campaign Finance Bill Seen Failing Court Test

By Hudson, Audrey | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 25, 2001 | Go to article overview

Campaign Finance Bill Seen Failing Court Test


Hudson, Audrey, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Sen. John McCain's signature legislation - a bill restricting how money is raised and spent in political campaigns - would chill free speech and violate multiple First Amendment provisions, according to a new study.

The study by James Bopp Jr., general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech, said the bill, as written, would not withstand judicial review.

"If passed, it is destined for a court-ordered funeral," Mr. Bopp said.

The campaign finance reform bill authored by Sens. McCain, Arizona Republican, and Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, is not scheduled for debate until March 26, but it is already coming under fire.

The bill's sweeping definition of "coordinated activity" would place restrictions on the rights of groups to communicate with the public through print, broadcast or telephone about federal politicians and upcoming votes in Congress, Mr. Bopp said.

The definition would chill political speech by placing groups constantly at risk of expensive investigations if they express opinions about politicians, Mr. Bopp said. The McCain-Feingold bill "is a broad-based and pernicious attack on the rights of average citizens to participate in the democratic process, thereby enhancing the power of already powerful wealthy individuals, millionaire candidates, and large news corporations," the study said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. McCain said no one was available Friday to comment on the report.

The legislation would ban soft-money donations by individuals and groups to political parties and would regulate political expenditures over $10,000 by independent groups for issue advertising in federal elections. …

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Campaign Finance Bill Seen Failing Court Test
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