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Federal Election Commission and McCain v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.

In this case, a Wisconsin anti-abortion group is challenging the constitutionality of the electioneering communications provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act as applied to its television and radio ads attacking Senator Feingold shortly before the 2004 election. Public Citizen Litigation Group assisted in the representation of Senator John McCain and Representatives Christopher Shays, Martin Meehan, and Tammy Baldwin, who intervened to defend the law. A three-judge district court held the law unconstitutional as applied in December 2006, and the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided on June 25 that the Wisconsin Right to Life ads constituted “genuine issue advocacy” and thus could be paid for from corporate treasury funds. The Court let stand the remained of BCRA, but held that many types of electioneering communications may be genuine issue ads, and thus not subject to the prohibition on paying for the ads with corporate or union money (“soft money”). The Court did not address the disclosure requirements for all electioneering communications.