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High Court Hears McCain-Feingold Case

Monday, September 15, 2003

On September 8, the Supreme Court convened a rare special session to hear debate over the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), also known as McCain-Feingold. Returning one month early from their summer recess for the first time in nearly 30 years, the high court broke protocol and heard four hours of oral arguments in this critically important First Amendment case. Your NRA-ILA has led the fight since day one.

Of greatest concern to NRA is the law`s prohibition on running broadcast ads (termed "electioneering communications") that mention candidates for federal office during the critical 30-day period before a primary election and 60-day period before a general election. This First Amendment "blackout" period is a direct attack on free speech. During oral arguments, the point was forcefully made that this law "intrudes deeply into the political life of the nation." The law restricts local political parties, and in turn, national parties, and hurts grassroots political efforts. In fact, NRA was cited by name during these oral arguments on dozens of occasions, and dominated the debate.

Though the court appeared largely divided over the case, Justice Antonin Scalia seemed quite skeptical of the measure, predicting that "There will be abuses under this law."

A ruling is expected to come sometime this Fall. Rest assured that NRA-ILA will keep you apprised of any relevant developments or decisions in future issues of the Grassroots Alert.

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.