Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. v. FEC

Grassroots Lobbying Ads and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act

Term: 2005 Term
Oral Argument Date: Jan 17, 2006
Vote: 9-0
Opinion: Per Curiam
Questions Presented: 

1. Whether as-applied challenges are permitted to the prohibition on corporate disbursements for electioneering communications at 2 U.S.C. § 441b after McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93 (2003).

2. If so, whether the prohibition on electioneering communications is unconstitutional as applied to the facts of this case, and particularly (a) the three particular grass-roots lobbying broadcast communications sponsored by Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. here and/or (b) grass-roots lobbying communications generally, as carefully defined, with any communications to be funded either from a general corporate account or, alternatively, from a separate bank account to which only qualified individuals may donate, as defined in 2 U.S.C. § 434(f)(2)(E). 

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

Underscoring the centrality of grassroots lobbying to the core concerns underpinning the First Amendment, NCLC urged the Supreme Court to resolve this as-applied constitutional challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and find that ads which concern active legislative issues and which urge viewers to contact their elected representatives should be given First Amendment Protection. Without such protection, the Act would not permit grassroots lobbying ads to be aired within sixty days of a general election and thirty days of a primary election.

Outcome Content: 

Agreeing with NCLC, the United States Supreme Court vacated and remanded the three-judge district court’s decision that McConnell v. F.E.C. precluded any constitutional challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act.

Procedural History: 

Amicus brief on the merits filed 11/14/05. Decided 1/23/06.