Lawyer James Bopp Jr., the architect of the Citizens United case that led to a landmark Supreme Court decision, has cut a wide swath in his challenges to campaign finance regulation.
Scott Thomas, a former Democratic chairman of the Federal Election, said in a Bloomberg profile of Bopp that the Indiana-based lawyer’s cases have come close to gutting the 2002 law aimed at curbing the influence of well-heeled donors and outside groups. “We should now call the statute, ‘The Federal Election Campaign Act paid for and authorized by Jim Bopp,’” Thomas said.
According to data from the Campaign Legal Center, Bopp filed 21 out of a total 31 lawsuits challenging campaign finance rules that the Center has tracked. On Wednesday, he was to appear in a federal appeals court in Missouri, challenging a Minnesota law prohibiting corporations from giving money to candidates and political committees.
Bopp is a Republican National Committee member. It was with help from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky that Bopp set up the James Madison Center to help cover his legal fees, according to Bloomberg.
From 2008 to 2010, the center listed donations of $579,935, and Bopp received $578,091 of that for legal fees. Among donors to the Center have been the American Justice Partnership, established by the National Association of Manufacturers.
Earlier this week, a separate news report noted that lower courts have turned aside challenges to campaign finance disclosure laws in embracing an often-overlooked section of Citizens United; Bopp has suffered defeat in some of those cases (see Gavel Grab).
When the Supreme Court delivered Citizens United, Justice at Stake said the decision “pours gasoline on the fire of special-interest money that has been overtaking judicial elections. Interest group spending imperils our right to impartial justice by pressuring judges to rule with one eye on big-money contributors.” The group also pointed to an “important silver lining” by virtue of the case’s affirmation of disclosure.