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NRA Comments on Supreme Court Decision in Wisconsin Right-to-Life Campaign Finance Suit

Monday, June 25, 2007

Washington, D.C.) - The National Rifle Association applauds the decision by the United States Supreme Court that limits the reach of the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) that restricts pre-election advertising. The NRA filed an amicus brief in the Wisconsin Right-to-Life case.

The NRA was one of the first plaintiffs to formally ask the federal court to invalidate the new limits placed upon the political speech of ordinary citizens, because it believed this law could not be allowed to stand - not even for a moment.

Commenting on the ruling, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said, “Attempts to stifle free speech among the masses in America are as old as King George trying to shut down the pamphleteers. This Supreme Court ruling says that the First Amendment rights of politicians and media conglomerates are no more important than the people’s rights. The First Amendment has always been about the masses and political ads are nothing more than an amplified voice of the man and woman on the street.”

The late Sen. Paul Wellstone declared on the floor of the United States Senate during the campaign finance debate that it was his intention to silence the NRA. As a direct and intentional target of this law, NRA had no choice but to protect our right to be heard.

“While the NRA had been mentioned by name, the authors of this law delivered a clear and straightforward message to all American citizens: ‘keep your mouths shut. Stay out of our political debates. Be quiet.’ BCRA undermined the most vital cornerstone of a democracy - free speech - during the most defining period of a democracy, election time. We were determined to see this injustice expire,” added Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist.

The NRA’s position is that the First Amendment protects its members from such directives by elected officials. The First Amendment does not allow Congress to make laws that deny Americans the right to speak out on issues, deny the right of NRA members to associate together on public policy issues and the right to petition our government for redress of grievances. BCRA imposes severe civil and criminal penalties on citizens who speak out on issues of concern - and NRA does not believe that the Constitution of the United States of America can allow such a result.

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Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.

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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.