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
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
These provisions of the bill will go a long way toward fixing some
of the most pressing problems in campaign finance today.
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
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
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.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 27, 2002.
# # #
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.
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
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,
"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
"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).