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WASHINGTON” The sweeping language and logic of Wednesday"™s Supreme Court decision on campaign finance may imperil other legal restrictions on money in politics.

The 5-to-4 decision, which struck down overall limits on contributions by individuals to candidates and parties, was the latest in a series of campaign finance decisions from the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. that took an expansive view of First Amendment rights and a narrow one of political corruption. According to experts in election law, there is no reason to think that the march toward deregulating election spending will stop with the ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

.... The next case may arrive soon. At their private conference on Friday, the justices are scheduled to consider whether to hear Iowa Right to Life Committee v. Tooker, No. 13-407, a petition from James Bopp Jr., one of the lawyers on the winning side in the McCutcheon case. It challenges an Iowa law that bans contributions from corporations but allows them from unions.

James Bopp Jr. is a utter menace to humanity and society. His goal is to totally yank the First Amendment out of context to effectively silence individual human speech (unless that human is a billionaire) and grant total immunity to corporations and establishment entities (as opposed to democratic unions) through his James Madison Center for Free Speech and his countless lawsuits engendered by the Center as an entity and by himself to gut any regulation of political speech by supposedly non-profit organizations:

The James Madison Center filed two federal lawsuits on Friday, April 3, 2009, to challenge the IRS definition of "political intervention," which has been used by the IRS to stifle the legitimate speech activities of many non-profit organizations.

For decades the IRS has applied an "all the facts and circumstances" test to the grass roots lobbying, issue advocacy and voter education activity of non-profits to determine if the non-profit has actually engaged in prohibited political activity. Furthermore, this vague IRS test has been exploited by some liberal groups to threaten and harass churches and other non-profits, causing many of them to be fearful of IRS retribution if they discussed moral or public policy issues. Non-profits have even shied away from legitimate grass roots lobbying activity in fear that it will be considered political intervention. As a result, the legitimate speech activities of many non-profits have been chilled and their free speech rights infringed.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has attempted to rein in Bopp:
TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute attorney James Bopp Jr., a nationally known advocate for conservative legal causes, is back in the news this week after a Washington watchdog group accused him of improperly benefiting from a not-for-profit entity.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — CREW — filed a number of complaints against Bopp on Tuesday, including allegations presented to the Internal Revenue Service, the Indiana Attorney General, the Indiana Secretary of State and the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Indiana.

....  A key allegation is that the Terre Haute-based James Madison Center for Free Speech, of which Bopp is the general counsel, is really just “an alter ego” for the Bopp law firm, said Melanie Sloan, CREW executive director, in an interview Wednesday with the Tribune-Star.

CREW alleges that Bopp has been “systematically diverting virtually all of the assets of the [James Madison Center] … to his own law firm. For each of the last six years, Mr. Bopp – as the sole manager of JMCFS, and operating unchecked by its board of directors – has transferred all of JMCFS’s funds to the Bopp Law Firm for his personal enrichment.”

She alleged that the transfers have totaled about $2.1 million.

Slate notes:
The conservative lawyer James Bopp Jr. has done as much as anyone to clear the way for the flood of money pouring into this year’s election. As James Bennet tells us in his excellent Atlantic piece, Bopp is the legal mind behind the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and another influential 2007 ruling, which together helped weaken disclosure requirements for political giving and ushered in the unlimited corporate and union donations of the Super PAC era.

Here’s a riff on Bopp that Bennet didn’t touch on: his unusual relationship with the James Madison Center for Free Speech, a nonprofit organization he co-founded in 1997. As a charity, the organization doesn’t really exist, outside of a few tax records in an IRS file cabinet. In reality, Bopp is the Madison Center, and vice versa, and for more than 15 years, the Indiana-based charity has helped fund Bopp’s influential litigation by channeling tax-exempt, mostly anonymous donations to his for-profit law firm.

Jon Campbell's article on Bopp is an excellent read and links to Bennett's article in the Atlantic, as well as Dahlia Lithwick's riff on Bopp:
James Bopp represents WRTL, and he seems to enrage justices Breyer and David Souter almost as effectively as his opponents infuriated Scalia and Roberts. Bopp keeps using the words "grassroots lobbying ads," and so Breyer jumps him. He wants to know what to make of the WRTL Web site—the one referred to in the ads that don't stop at politely saying, "Phone the senator." The Web site more candidly says, "Defeat him, defeat him, defeat him!" Breyer cries. "Sounds like they have defeat in mind." He starts jamming Bopp on whether he read the "1,000-page opinion below," which he says took him a whole week to read. Finally, Breyer asks whether Bopp wants the whole provision struck down. Scalia reminds Bopp that he does. Bopp says that if "there is no workable test," then heck yeah, strike it down.
Next item on Bopp's aggenda, according to a quote in the NYTimes article, is public financing:
Heather Gerken, a law professor at Yale, said she feared that the court would build on its 2011 decision in Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, which struck down an Arizona law that provided escalating matching funds to candidates who accepted public financing. But it left more straightforward systems intact.

My fear is that the court’s next target is the most revered pillar of campaign finance: public financing,” Professor Gerken said. “The lines are in the water, and we’ll see if the Roberts court bites.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  the problem lies not in the Bopp-us (0+ / 0-)

    but the SCOTUS

  •  So glad to see bad press for Bopp! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And kudos to CREW for making him the focus of this attention.

    I lived in Terre Haute in the 1970s and worked for his first wife's brother.  I only encountered him once, briefly, when I was in my 20's -- and my spidey-sense told me that he was someone to avoid.  This was about the time that he began his political activism for 'conservative' causes -- beginning with anti-abortion and anti-gay groups (this was about the time that Anita Bryant, then the public face of Florida Orange Juice, came out publicly against gays for what she called religious reasons.)

    I hope that CREW is successful in its case against Bopp, and I hope that this negative publicity brings him out of the shadows and causes other investigative reporters and action-groups to dig into his history.

    This man has wielded  far too much influence for far too long; some strong sunlight is needed.

    Thanks for posting this, Karen.

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