DENVER, CO – WyLiberty attorneys filed a brief with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Free Speech v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) in Denver today. The brief argues that the court should reverse a ruling by Judge Scott Skavdahl of the Wyoming federal district court that denied a preliminary injunction against FEC regulations that require Free Speech to register and report as a political committee (PAC).
“The FEC’s regime of red tape silenced Free Speech and many other grassroots groups throughout the 2012 election cycle,” said Steve Klein, attorney for Free Speech. “The FEC claims in this case that it’s not banning political speech, but complex regulations that no one understands are just as effective in shutting people up.”
Free Speech, a group of three Wyoming residents, formed to run advertisements advocating positions on health care, land rights, gun rights and other issues, with criticism and praise for the positions of various candidates. Labeling most of the ads “express advocacy” for the election or defeat of candidates, the FEC’s lawyers believe Free Speech is a PAC, and that it is within the FEC’s authority to require Free Speech to file monthly reports just for speaking.
A complex case, the appendix for the appeal, containing the most pertinent documents relating to the case, totaled just over 500 pages.
Benjamin Barr, counsel for Free Speech, explained “Most citizens don’t have the time to consult hundreds of pages of federal regulations just because they want to criticize those in power. This case demonstrates the absurdity of federal election law – demanding that citizens compile more than 500 pages just to vindicate their right to speak out without filling out a smorgasbord of forms few people understand. This appeal reaffirms the First Amendment and aims to eliminate the free speech red tape created by the FEC.”
The FEC has 30 days to respond to Free Speech’s brief. If successful, Free Speech v. FEC would eliminate key portions of federal election law demanding grassroots speakers register with the government when discussing federal candidates.