Campaign Finance Bill’s Authors Respond to Wisconsin Pro-Life Group’s Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 11, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Campaign Finance Bill’s Authors Respond to Wisconsin Pro-Life Group’s Lawsuit

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
August 11, 2004

Madison, WI ( — The authors of the controversial McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation appear to be divided in their response to a legal challenge to the law.

Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, has filed a friend of the court brief asking for a district court to throw out Wisconsin Right to Life’s lawsuit challenging McCain-Feingold’s advertising ban.

The pro-life group contends the legislation’s ban on certain broadcast advertising violates the group’s free speech rights.

But, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has not taken a legal position on the lawsuit.

"Does Senator Feingold’s silence in the Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC lawsuit mean that he approves of the suit," asked Barbara Lyons, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life.

"Does Senator Feingold agree that Wisconsin Right to Life should be allowed to continue its grassroots lobbying campaign which mentions Senator Feingold’s name into the [legislation’s] pre-primary broadcast blackout period," Lyons added.

On Thursday, a hearing will be held in Washington to decide whether Wisconsin Right to Life should be granted a preliminary injunction striking down the broadcast ban.

The pro-life organization says it should be allowed to run grassroots lobbying ads which urge constituents to call Senator Feingold’s office. However, under McCain-Feingold, ads which mention a candidate’s name during a blackout period prior to an election are banned.

Feingold is running for re-election in Wisconsin’s September 14th Senate primary, meaning that ads mentioning his name are not permitted during a 30-day period before the election.

"The only response from Senator Feingold to date is that the ad campaign and lawsuit are a ‘gimmick.’ The court is certainly not treating it as such by moving swiftly to consider the merits of the case," Lyons said.

"So, where is Senator Feingold? Does his silence mean he agrees with Wisconsin Right to Life? Or, does he believe the case so ridiculous that it is not worth his time to join a response," Lyons added.

Wisconsin Right to Life is not alone in its opposition to the broadcast ban. The AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also oppose the ban. The pro-life organization is the first group in the nation to legally challenge the ban on grassroots advertising.

For more information on Wisconsin’s ad campaign and the legal pleadings, visit

Related web sites:
Wisconsin Right to Life –