CHEYENNE — WyLiberty attorneys filed a motion for an emergency injunction with the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit today in the case Free Speech v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) to prevent the enforcement of campaign finance regulations that require groups to register and report with the government to speak about political issues.
“This appeal is Free Speech’s last meaningful opportunity to speak before the November 6th elections. It is important to remember that this is a federal agency that cannot interpret its own laws,” said Benjamin Barr, lead counsel to Free Speech. “Yet, it applies criminal and civil penalties against those who violate them. The First Amendment protects against this sort of regulatory absurdity and we expect the Tenth Circuit to issue a full vindication of our client’s constitutional rights.”
Free Speech formed as a nonprofit association in Wyoming early this year and wants to take out advertisements in local and national media that criticize President Obama’s positions on health care, gun rights, land rights and free speech. When it sought guidance from the FEC about whether its ads were regulated and if it had to register as a political committee (PAC), the FEC could not provide legal guidance.
“The regulations are vague and should never impose PAC status on issue advocacy organizations like Free Speech,” said Steve Klein, co-counsel to Free Speech. “The ruling against our request for a preliminary injunction went against well-established precedent from not just the Tenth Circuit, but also from the United States Supreme Court.”
Earlier this month, Judge Scott Skavdahl of the United States Court for the District of Wyoming denied a preliminary injunction in the case, requiring Free Speech to register and report as a PAC to speak about political issues.
An emergency injunction asks the Court to issue a ruling within 48 hours. Free Speech hopes to hear from the Court on Friday.