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Media Institute Court Brief Says Campaign Finance Legislation Contains Unconstitutional Speech Restrictions
FOR RELEASE: November 5, 2002
Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
Washington, Nov. 5, 2002 - The new Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) contains provisions that violate bedrock First Amendment principles, The Media Institute said in a brief filed Friday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The BCRA provisions regarding noncandidate campaign expenditures should be held unconstitutional under the First Amendment, the Institute urged the district court.
The Institute made the comments in an amicus curiae brief filed in support of the plaintiffs in the case Sen. Mitch McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, a suit that challenges the constitutionality of the BCRA.
The regulations "cast a wide net across political speech, unconstitutionally broadening the existing restrictions on political issue advocacy," the Institute said.
In its efforts to plug "loopholes" in existing campaign finance legislation, the BCRA instead directly restricts political issue advocacy speech, the Institute said. These restrictions include limits that bar corporations and labor unions from funding political advertising during the months immediately preceding a federal election campaign or primary.
The Institute also said that the measure's vague language sweeps too broadly over political speech. "[T]he disclosure requirements, the restrictions on political speech by corporations and other entities, and the newly expanded contribution limitations reach any type of expression via broadcast, satellite, or cable that somehow touches on a federal candidate in any way," the Institute said.
The Media Institute is a nonprofit research foundation specializing in communications policy and First Amendment issues. For more information visit the Institute's Web site at www.mediainstitute.org.