For Immediate Release
May 2, 2003
Amanda Cooper, 212 998–6736
Decision Today in McConnell v. FEC
Court Upholds Key Portions of Congressional Effort to Clean Up Elections
The following are statements from E. Joshua Rosenkranz, former president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and Deborah Goldberg, acting director of the Centers Democracy Program. Mr. Rosenkranz was a member of the legal team retained to defend BCRA by Senators McCain, Feingold, Snowe and Jeffords, and Members of Congress Shays and Meehan. Ms. Goldberg is an expert on Campaign Finance Reform, active in drafting and litigating reforms throughout the nation. They are available for further comment or analysis on the decision.
Americans demanded campaign finance reform in order to reclaim the power of their voices and their votes. Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) last spring in response to this demand.
Today, a special district court upheld core provisions of this groundbreaking legislation. The court held that national parties can no longer serve as conduits for truckloads of corporate and union soft money that has undermined the integrity of our elections. And, contrary to the expectations of so many pundits, the court ruled that those who try to influence our vote with blatant attack ads can no longer hide behind the fiction that they are simply educating the public about issues.
When it comes to campaign advertising, the court vindicated the argument that we have been making for years, and that the pundits almost uniformly expected the court to reject: The court agreed that an ad that waddles, quacks and smells like a campaign ad is a campaign ad, and that its identity as a campaign ad does not change just because the sponsor cleverly avoided certain magic words like vote for or vote against.
The plaintiffs in this case, a broad based coalition of Washington power brokers, have always claimed that they filed this suit to protect the First Amendment. In fact, attacks on this legislation are based on protecting the current corrupt system: business as usual in Washington D.C., where campaign contributions and spending buy access and power.
Prevailing at the Supreme Court is the next step on the road that returns our government to the American people.
If you have questions or would like to arrange an interview, please call Amanda Cooper at 212 998–6736. More information, including links to briefs, can be found in our Resources section and at www.democracy21.org.