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US Supreme Court To Hear Challenge To Campaign Ad Ban January 19, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Judiciary, US News.

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Supreme Court Friday undertook its second review of a Wisconsin anti-abortion group’s challenge to federal campaign laws that restricts political advertising by companies, unions and interest groups in the final weeks of federal elections.

The justices accepted an appeal from the Federal Election Commission and will rule in the case during the 2006-2007 term. The FEC in December 2006 lost a challenge brought by Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. after the high court last year sent the case back for additional evaluation.

The anti-abortion group in 2004 sued the FEC in an attempt to run three television ads against Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., criticizing the senator for delaying Senate votes on judicial nominees. The group wanted to run the ads, which also mentioned Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., during the final two months of Feingold’s bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 bars “electioneering communication” by private companies, unions and political groups within two months of general elections and one month of a primary election.

But a special panel of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. District Court ruled 2-1 that the content of Wisconsin Right to Life Inc.’s advertisements didn’t fall within the law’s restrictions. The majority said the “anti-filibuster ads are neither express advocacy nor its functional equivalent” and ruled the political advertisements were allowed.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, in the government’s appeal, said the D.C. District Court’s “mode of analysis is seriously flawed.” Clement urged the Supreme Court to hear the appeal and clarify how the election advertising restrictions apply.

The case is FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life Inc., 06-969. A decision is expected by July.

By Mark H. Anderson, Dow Jones Newswires


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