LARCHMONT, N.Y., July 16, 2004 – LAWFUEL-Election Law Journal Co-Editor Richard L. Hasen says that opponents of Michael Moore or the National Rifle Association want to use campaign finance laws to keep ads for “Fahrenheit 9/11” and the new NRANews radio program from the airwaves. Depending upon how the courts or Federal Election Commission read the new campaign finance law, they may succeed. Election Law Journal is a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com) available at www.liebertpub.com/ELJ.
The new campaign finance law prohibits broadcast advertisements aired within 30 days of primaries or party conventions or 60 days of the general election that feature a candidate for federal office, but contains an exception for the news media–television, radio, or print. This poses a dilemma for the Federal Election Commission, according to Hasen, Professor of Law and William M. Rains Fellow at Loyola Law School (Los Angeles, CA). The FEC has received a complaint about “Fahrenheit 9/11” broadcast ads that feature President Bush and likely will be broadcast in proximity to the Republican National Convention. Complaints against the NRA are also likely, arguing that its new program on satellite radio is an impermissible broadcast communication by a corporation.
Hasen says the FEC must carefully weigh the new law against First Amendment rights in grappling with questions such as: Should the law prevent the broadcast of advertisements publicizing Moore’s documentary? And is the NRA’s news and commentary program, NRANews, similar enough to a regular news program to fit under the exception for the news media?
In the short-term, concludes Hasen, “the FEC should… protect political actors like Moore and the NRA,” exempting them from the electioneering communications provisions. Whereas in the long run, Congress should consider if an exception for media corporations and such corporations alone continues to make sense.”
Election Law Journal is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published quarterly in print and online. Co-edited by Daniel H. Lowenstein of UCLA Law School and Richard Hasen of Loyola Law School, the Journal covers the emerging specialty of election law for practicing attorneys, election administrators, political professionals, and legal scholars. It covers election law on the federal, state, and local levels in the U.S. and in 75 countries around the world. A complete table of contents and a free sample issue may be viewed online at www.liebertpub.com/ELJ.
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