A nasty battle of words is brewing on election law experts on national listservs and blogs and in press releases over Indiana Republican Party Treasurer James Bopp, Jr. This battle swirls around a lawsuit you may hear more about next week. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week agreed to hear arguments on the motion of the Christian Civic League of Maine for preliminary injunction for Monday, April 24. CCL, a tax-exempt Maine corporation, filed suit on April 3 to secure preliminary injunction to allow it to broadcast a grassroots lobbying advertisement in support of the federal Marriage Protection Amendment after May 14, 2006, when the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) “blackout period” prohibiting such broadcasts will begin. The suit also seeks permanent injunction allowing broadcast of similar ads during future blackout periods. Bopp represents the plaintiffs. During discovery last week, the Campaign Legal Center contends that Federal Election Commission attorneys "uncovered evidence that the suit was actually instigated as a test case" by Bopp, "an attorney who has challenged BCRA's constitutionality since its inception. The court documents filed by the FEC [Monday] made it clear that Bopp worked through the Colorado-based Focus on the Family group to search the United States for a group willing to run a candidate-specific ad that could be used to bring this as-applied challenge. 'This case is not about grassroots lobbying. It's a one-person crusade by Jim Bopp to take down a law he doesn't like," said Gerry Hebert, the Legal Center's Executive Director and Director of Litigation. 'The Christian Civic League had no plans to broadcast this ad prior to the June 13 Maine primary until they met Mr. Bopp.' " The dialogue continues in several places, including the Election Law Blog, More Soft Money Hard Law, and on the election law listserv. Why might this be important? Look for Indiana Democrats to suggest that while Bopp may not have a problem actively seeking out a "plaintiff
based on a set of facts largely manufactured by counsel" as the Legal Center's Hebert alleges, he chastises the Indiana Democratic Party/ACLU plaintiffs for failing to find even one person who would be disenfranchised by the Voter ID law.
It should be noted that Maine's Christian Civic League, who Bopp is supposedly representing in this suit, is the same group which fought tooth and nail to prevent Maine from enacting a statewide law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. Maine voters handily turned back an initiative last fall initiated by the group to repeal the new law before it took effect.