December 22, 2009
Wisconsin Right to Life's Assault on Impartial Justice Will Not Go Unchallenged
Late last Friday afternoon, Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) -- an organization that has long hated any and all campaign finance reform -- filed a lawsuit in Federal Court to block and strike down part of the Impartial Justice Act- the new law that provides full public financing to qualifying candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, that was signed by Governor Jim Doyle on December 1st. The suit alleges that the matching funds provision of the law - under which candidates who abide by spending limits would be eligible to receive a capped amount of matching funds if outside groups (like WRTL) spend against them or for their opponent - "chills" the speech of outside groups (like WRTL).
We emphatically disagree with WRTL. The matching funds provision does nothing to prevent WRTL and other outside groups from spending and running their communications. It simply provides the target of their attacks with limited means to defend themselves so that the election is not completely dominated by the outside special interest groups (like WRTL). A similar provision was upheld by the courts in North Carolina, which also has a full public financing system (and matching funds) for state supreme court elections.
To read the press release issued by WRTL's Indiana-based lawyer go here: Wisconsin Right to Life files suit against 'Impartial Justice' bill and then - See the lawsuit
To read news accounts in the Associated Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which include Common Cause in Wisconsin's reaction to the WRTL lawsuit, see: Federal lawsuit filed over Wis. campaign law and Group sues over public financing of court candidates
Also today, failed 2009 Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Randy Koschnick, together with the Virginia-based Center for Competitive Politics, a right-wing, anti-reform group, filed a lawsuit against the Impartial Justice law on even broader grounds than WRTL. To find out more, see: Koschnick suit challenges constitutionality of Impartial Justice. To read the complaint, go here.
CC/WI is reviewing all the options available in defending this sweeping new campaign finance reform law against these vicious attacks. We are in touch with state and national legal experts and we will do all that we can to protect the integrity of Wisconsin's Impartial Justice Act -- the most significant and sweeping campaign finance reform to become law since 1977.
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As 2009 draws to an end, please consider making a contribution to support the work of Common Cause in Wisconsin. Your assistance, in any amount, would be welcome and needed. Please mail your check or credit card payment to the address below or call Jay Heck at 608/256-2686. To download a form to send with your donation, go here.
Thanks and Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
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