President Signs Campaign Finance Reform Act
Statement by the President
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 27, 2002

Today I have signed into law H.R. 2356, the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002." I believe that this legislation, although far from perfect, will improve the current financing system for Federal campaigns.

The bill reforms our system of financing campaigns in several important ways. First, it will prevent unions and corporations from making unregulated, "soft" money contributions -- a legislative step for which I repeatedly have called.

Often, these groups take political action without the consent of their members or shareholders, so that the influence of these groups on elections does not necessarily comport with the actual views of the individuals who comprise these organizations. This prohibition will help to right that imbalance.

Second, this law will raise the decades-old limits on giving imposed on individuals who wish to support the candidate of their choice, thereby advancing my stated principle that election reform should strengthen the role of individual citizens in the political process.

Third, this legislation creates new disclosure requirements and compels speedier compliance with existing ones, which will promote the free and swift flow of information to the public regarding the activities of groups and individuals in the political process.

I long have believed that complete and immediate disclosure of the source of campaign contributions is the best way to reform campaign finance.

These provisions of the bill will go a long way toward fixing some of the most pressing problems in campaign finance today. They will result in an election finance system that encourages greater individual participation, and provides the public more accurate and timely information, than does the present system. All of the American electorate will benefit from these measures to strengthen our democracy.

However, the bill does have flaws. Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed by preventing all individuals, not just unions and corporations, from making donations to political parties in connection with Federal elections.

I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment.

I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law.

As a policy matter, I would have preferred a bill that included a provision to protect union members and shareholders from involuntary political activities undertaken by their leadership.

Individuals have a right not to have their money spent in support of candidates or causes with which they disagree, and those rights should be better protected by law. I hope that in the future the Congress and I can work together to remedy this defect of the current financing structure.

This legislation is the culmination of more than 6 years of debate among a vast array of legislators, citizens, and groups. Accordingly, it does not represent the full ideals of any one point of view.

But it does represent progress in this often-contentious area of public policy debate. Taken as a whole, this bill improves the current system of financing for Federal campaigns, and therefore I have signed it into law.

March 27, 2002.

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Does the 1st Amendment Matter
by Ben DoubleCrossed

"The First Amendment of the Constitution, enacted over two hundred years ago, is America's premier political reform. It encouraged individual participation by generations of Americans prior to 1971, until Congress chose to ignore the injunction:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Prior to 1971 the individual States regulated elections for federal offices as the 1st and 10th Amendments intended.  There were no federal regulations or laws for individuals to comply with.

In 2005  we find ourselves in a unique situation for which there is no legal description.  If we encourage others to disregard federal campaign laws we cannot  be construed to be promoting civil disobedience because the 1st Amendment has never been repealed or amended.

But there is a 16 page document on the Federal Election Commission website called the Citizen's Guide

The purpose of this guide is to encourage citizens, like yourself, to take an active part in the Federal election process. There are several ways you may support Federal candidates and political committees involved in Federal elections. These activities, however, are subject to the Federal campaign finance law. For example, the law limits the amount of money you may contribute and prohibits certain people and organizations from making contributions. This guide explains how to participate in Federal elections in compliance with federal law.

Which law should we follow the 1st Amendment or Federal Campaign Laws?  The following cases provide guidance:

Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them. - Miranda Vs. Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491.
Note may be made of the legal reference 16th American Jurisprudence 2d, Section 177 late 2nd, Section 256 stating: "No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it." [emphasis added]
"The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and the name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it."
"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void." Marbury Vs. Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803).
"An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed." Norton Vs. Shelby County 118 US 425 p. 442
Finally, when they say the State has the 'authority' and power to 'regulate,' you might mention Schick vs United States [(1904) 195 US 65, 49 L.Ed. 99, 24 S. Ct. 826] which clearly says otherwise:
"If there is any conflict between the provisions of the Constitution [enumerated powers to make law] and the provisions of the Amendments [Bill of Rights], the Amendments must control."
 Doesn't the President as well as Congress have an obligation to make certain, to the best of their abilities,  that new laws are constitutional prior to enacting them?  Isn't reasonable caution implied in their oaths of office, when they swear to protect and defend the Constitution of these United States? If there are Constitutional questions, wouldn't it be better to err on the side of caution?
As Mr. Justice Brandeis once observed:  "Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same [384 U.S. 436, 480]   rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means . . . would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face." Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928) (dissenting opinion).