A Quest to End Spending Rules for Campaigns | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

A Quest to End Spending Rules for Campaigns

A Quest to End Spending Rules for Campaigns

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
WASHINGTON — James Bopp Jr. likes to begin speeches by reading the First Amendment. He calls opponents, including President Obama, “socialists.” He runs a national law practice out of a small office in Terre Haute, Ind., because he prefers the city’s conservative culture.

And for most of the last 35 years, he has been a lonely Quixote tilting at the very idea of regulating political donations as an affront to free speech.

Not anymore. Mr. Bopp won his biggest victory last week when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions and nonprofit groups have the right to spend as much as they want supporting or opposing the election of a candidate.

But it was Mr. Bopp who had first advised the winning plaintiff, the conservative group Citizens United, about using its campaign-season film “Hillary: The Movie” as a deliberate test of the limits on corporate political spending. And he shepherded the case through appeals to the Supreme Court as part of a long-term legal strategy that he says he has just begun.

“We had a 10-year plan to take all this down,” he said in an interview. “And if we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law.”

“We have been awfully successful,” he added, “and we are not done yet.”

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