Can You Hear Me Now?

Posted on January 18, 2006
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Did you know that ordinary organizations like the Sierra Club and the NRA can’t advertise their views on issues and candidates on television or radio in the months leading up to federal elections? That’s the result of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) that was challenged yesterday before the U.S. Supreme Court as a violation of the free speech rights of Wisconsin Right to Life.

The BCRA prohibits grassroots organizations from running “electioneering communications” within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election’"which is exactly when most Americans are interested in hearing about politics.

Upset about judicial filibustering, Wisconsin Right to Life wanted to run ads urging voters to contact Senator Feingold. But BCRA blocked the ads, so the group filed suit to enforce its right to free speech.
In an amicus brief, the Goldwater Institute contends that the “electioneering communications” ban violates free speech rights of citizens who come together to be heard. It recommends that the Court preserve the freedom of political speech under the First Amendment. 

The upcoming ruling in Wisconsin Right to Life may have implications for the Arizona Clean Elections Act, which is also being challenged before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on free speech grounds. Here’s to hoping the Wisconsin Right to Life decision will restore an important constitutional protection for political speech so all voices can be heard. 

Key Links:

-Goldwater Institute: Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission Amicus Brief
-Goldwater Institute:  “Is Cleanliness Political Godliness?  Arizona’s Clean Elections Law After Its First Year”
-James Madison Center for Free Speech

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