April 19, 2006

"This case is not about grassroots lobbying. It's a one-person crusade by Jim Bopp to take down a law he doesn't like"

So states the Campaign Legal Center's Gerry Hebert in this press release regarding Christian Civic League v. Maine, being heard Monday before a three-judge court in Washington DC. Here is the context of Gerry's remark:

    During discovery last week, FEC attorneys uncovered evidence that the suit was actually instigated as a test case by campaign finance reform critic James Bopp, Jr., an attorney who has challenged BCRA's constitutionality since its inception. The court documents filed by the FEC yesterday made it clear that Bopp worked through the Colorado-based Focus on the Family group to search the United States for a group willing to run a candidate-specific ad that could be used to bring this as-applied challenge.

    "This case is not about grassroots lobbying. It's a one-person crusade by Jim Bopp to take down a law he doesn't like," said Gerry Hebert, the Legal Center's Executive Director and Director of Litigation. "The Christian Civic League had no plans to broadcast this ad prior to the June 13 Maine primary until they met Mr. Bopp."

Not only no plans to run the ad, but apparently no money to do so, even now. (See the very revealing email exchanges and summary of deposition testimony in this document filed by the FEC.) Will this case be dismissed on standing grounds? Will the court wait until the court deciding the same issue in the WRTL case acts first? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Bob Bauer responds, defending Bopp and noting:
    Jim Bopp perhaps can--and most probably does---take some satisfaction in this attack. He will stand his ground against the establishment assault, which includes the intervention in the case, against his client ,of the BCRA sponsors who are represented by seven---count them, seven--different lawyers and law firms. Their Memorandum in Opposition to Mr. Bopp’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is very unsympathetic to his position. And, in its own way, it shows little regard for law it "doesn't like," managing to omit any citation to or mention of the Supreme Court’s decision in Wisconsin Right to Life.

I haven't yet seen the document that Bob is referring to (and it is not linked on his post). But such an omission (if it is indeed an omission) reminds me of the decision in FEC v. Christian Action Network, 110 F.3d 1049 (4th Cir. 1997), in which the court criticized the FEC for failing to cite Buckley's footnote 52 in its briefs in a case about the meaning of "express advocacy:" "Throughout the FEC's entire 69 pages of briefing on the merits of this case, it never once quotes any of the numerous passages in Buckley and MCFL referring to 'explicit words' or 'express words' or 'language' of advocacy. Nor does it once quote Buckley 's footnote 52. Compare DNC Br. at 5 (quoting footnote 52 in full, including Buckley 's"express words" locution)."

Posted by Rick Hasen at April 19, 2006 03:46 PM