Legal Briefs

Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life

By Erik S. Jaffe
March 23, 2007
Returning for Round II of Wisconsin Right to Life’s defense of its First Amendment freedom to engage in grass-roots lobbying, Cato joined forces with the Center for Competitive Politics, the Institute for Justice, the Reason Foundation, and the Individual Rights Foundation to remind the Supreme Court of the core First Amendment quality of such grass-roots lobbying and to dissuade the Court from straying farther than it already has from fundamental First Amendment principles. Our brief in this second round at the Court, again written by Cato friend (and former Justice Thomas clerk) Erik Jaffe, emphasizes how federal restrictions on grass-roots lobbying that asks citizens to raise important issues with their elected representatives in Congress severely burdens free speech, freedom of association, and the right to petition the government, and acts in combination with other federal and state restrictions on political speech to choke off one of the few remaining avenues of effective political speech, particularly during the run-up to federal elections. The brief emphasizes that the government’s purported interest in preventing “circumvention” of other restrictions on political speech and association is nothing more than the embodiment of the slippery slope of regulation, repackaged as a faux “interest” that has no stopping point short of the complete suppression of political speech that might – perish the thought – influence citizens or politicians.

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