NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Campaign Law Faces Challenges From All Quarters

November 6, 2002

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that takes effect today is already under legal attack from a wide variety of interest groups -- ranging from the National Rifle Association to organized labor and the American Civil Liberties Union. In fact, even though every Democratic member of Congress from California voted for it, the California Democratic Party is also fighting the reform, which was signed by President Bush in March.

  • Opponents are seeking to restore yesterday's status quo -- preserving political issue ads and unregulated "soft money" donations from companies and wealthy individuals.
  • These challengers are preparing to argue that the new restrictions violate constitutional free-speech guarantees.
  • Briefs are due today before a three-judge federal district court, which is expected to issue its ruling within the next three months.
  • Next stop for the opposition -- which is being spearheaded by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) -- would be the Supreme Court.

The challengers are often each motivated by different interests. In fact, six teenagers who joined another suit complain that the provision that allows only adults to donate violates the rights of minors.

All, however, agree on one point: the McCain-Feingold law is a threat to free speech.

Source: Tom Hamburger, "New Campaign Law Hit by Legal Attack From Left and Right," Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2002.

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