by Steven Ertelt
April 25, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Supreme Court today is holding a hearing on a pro-life group’s campaign finance lawsuit. The central question in the case is whether organizations like Wisconsin Right to Life can air legitimate grassroots lobbying ads within the blackout periods created by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
The Congressional measure prohibits the airing of advertisements mentioning the names of candidates running for federal office within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election.
The prohibition includes issue advocacy ads simply asking people to contact their elected officials about bills pending before Congress if they include the names of candidates for office.
The District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Wisconsin Right to Life in December of 2006, stating that it is unconstitutional to prohibit the airing of such ads.
The Federal Election Commission and Senator McCain and other members of Congress appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision prior to June 30.
Numerous organizations have joined Wisconsin Right to Life in seeking the First Amendment right to petition the government via grassroots lobbying ads without being subject to jail sentences.
The American Center for Law and Justice is one group supporting Wisconsin Right to Life and says the high court has an important opportunity to protect free speech by removing the blackout periods prior to primary and general elections that prohibit issue advertising.
“The Supreme Court should restore the ability of organizations to speak out on key issues in the days leading up to an election by removing a ban on advertising,” Jay Sekulow, the group’s director, told LifeNews.com.
"By banning issue advertisements by grassroots lobbying organizations in the days leading up to an election, there is a significant bias in place – putting these organizations at a distinct disadvantage in speaking out on the cultural and political issues that matter most," he added.
The ACLJ filed an amicus brief with the high court on behalf of itself and Focus on the Family.
In its brief, the ACLJ urged the high court to remove the prohibition of grassroots lobbying organizations from taking part in issue advertising 30-days before a primary election and 60-days before a general election.
The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the consolidated cases of FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (No. 06-969) and McCain v. Wisconsin Right to Life (No. 06-970).