WASHINGTON, D.C., July 8, 2003 -- The United States Chamber of Commerce today urged the Supreme Court to strike down provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that unconstitutionally restrict free speech, urging the high court to uphold previous rulings that the First Amendment takes precedence over the government's ability to regulate elections.
"Freedom of speech and participation in the government process are the cornerstones of our democracy," said Stephen Bokat, the U.S. Chamber's general counsel. "We believe that the court will ultimately find that placing additional limits on the ability of individuals and businesses to come together and advocate for a common purpose or position is unconstitutional."
The Chamber's lawsuit contends that provisions in the campaign finance reform law, exposing organizations that have regular contact with government officials to charges that their independent public speech is unlawful coordination with a candidate, violate the constitutional protections of due process and free speech. In its brief, the Chamber -- along with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Associated Builders and Contractors -- argues that the court should adhere to previously established First Amendment standards with regards to the electioneering communication and coordination provisions of the campaign finance law.
"As the Chamber has argued successfully in a number of other cases, any attempt to regulate elections must be balanced against the more important constitutional right of free speech," Bokat said. "Despite congressional attempts to limit free speech, the court is obligated to protect constitutionally guaranteed rights. If this law is allowed to stand, it threatens the ability and rights of our nation s businesses, and leading job providers, to participate in the government process."