Some good news from the Libertarian Party on the fight against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance fiasco!

2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web:
For release: May 3, 2003
For additional information:
George Getz, Communications Director
Phone: (202) 333-0008

Federal court ruling on campaign finance law is victory for third parties, Libertarians say

WASHINGTON, DC — The Libertarian Party, a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, is applauding Friday’s federal court ruling striking down several provisions as unconstitutional.

“This ruling is a victory for third parties and for the tens of millions of Americans who support them,” said Geoffrey Neale, national chair of the Libertarian Party. “In an attempt to reduce corruption among Democrats and Republicans, this law stifled political speech and imposed massive regulations that make it harder for third parties to compete.”

The three-judge federal panel in Washington, DC, struck down several sections of the nation’s new campaign finance law, formally known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

Though legal experts had yet to assess the full impact of the complex, 1,600-page ruling, it’s clear that the court rejected sweeping new restrictions on political ads aired by interest groups, overturned a ban on “soft money” from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals and struck down a ban on minors contributing to political parties.

The Libertarian Party became a plaintiff in the lawsuit in March 2002, saying it “places an unfair burden on third parties, which have fewer resources and staff members to deal with its red-tape provisions.”

One immediate effect of the ruling: Young Libertarians, such as 17-year-old Trevor Southerland of Georgia, will once again be allowed to participate in the political process.

Southerland, a founder of the Catoosa County, GA, Libertarian Party, was 16 when he became a plaintiff in the lawsuit last year.

He pointed out that since the law bans people under 18 from contributing to political parties, and since the Libertarian Party requires all members to pay annual dues of $25, the result is that youths are in effect banned from the party.

“It’s nice to be legal again!” Southerland said in response to the ruling. “It was scary to think that donating to a campaign could be illegal — kind of like living in the Soviet Union.”

Another Libertarian who is legal again is 17-year-old Max Goldstein of Indianapolis. Goldstein was 16 last year when he served as a delegate to the Indiana state Libertarian convention and the national convention.

“I think the ruling is fabulous,” Goldstein said. “Now I have an opportunity to do more political work.”

Like other plaintiffs, the national Libertarian Party is still assessing the full impact of the ruling, Neale said.

“Nonetheless, it’s clear that many aspects will be beneficial for third parties,” he said. “For example, the ban on soft money would have made it impossible for us to take these contributions to build a headquarters, as Republicans and Democrats already have done.

“It would have also prevented us from selling ads to businesses in our party newspaper or selling political buttons to our state parties, since that revenue is classified as contributions under the bill.”

Many other regulations mandated by the bill wouldn’t matter much to Democrats and Republicans, which have the capacity to absorb the costs, but would have a disproportionate impact on third parties, he added.

“The bottom line is that in an attempt to rein in corruption among Democrats and Republicans, Congress inflicted collateral damage on third parties,” he said. “The only way to reduce the influence of money in politics is to reduce the size and power of government. If Congress had nothing to sell, special interests would have nothing to buy.”

The ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Other plaintiffs include former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Carla Howell and former Massachusetts Senate candidate Michael Cloud, both Libertarians; Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX; the ACLU; the NRA; the National Right to Life Committee; the James Madison Center for Free Speech; the AFL-CIO; the Republican National Committee; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and the National Association of Broadcasters.

The Libertarian Party
2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Suite 100 voice: 202-333-0008
Washington DC 20037 fax: 202-333-0072

[Listening to: Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again – Bob Dylan]

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