September 13, 2010: James Bopp, the conservative mastermind behind the Citizens United case, boasts that nearly all the campaign finance regulations passed in recent history have been dismantled. "Campaign finance regulations used to sit on four legs…now the Supreme Court has eliminated three legs and cut the other one in half," said the Indiana lawyer, speaking at Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Conference last week. Regulation, he concluded, "is on its last legs."
Bopp, the current general counsel for the anti-abortion group National Right to Life, has played a central role in dismantling many of the campaign finance regulations that have been enacted since the 1970s. In 2007, Bopp successfully defended Wisconsin Right to Life in its Supreme Court case against the Federal Election Commission, winning a decision that laid much of the groundwork for Citizens United. And while Bopp didn't argue Citizens United when it reached the high court two years later, he didn't really have to: The case was his brainchild.
Bopp proudly points out that the Supreme Court has now repeatedly been swayed by his argument that corporate speech is covered under the First Amendment and that corporations should therefore be allowed to spend as they please. At the Reed event, however, he added that corporations should have the right to remain anonymous if they decide to spend money in an election—and that the Founding Fathers would have wanted it that way. He points out that the famous authors of the Federalist Papers used pseudonyms to sign them. "If you don't know the author of the argument, then all you can do is talk about the argument, the merits of the argument," he told me.