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New Plaintiffs Against Finance Law

April 10, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that two dozen groups and individuals had joined in his legal challenge to the new campaign finance law that would restrict how money is spent in federal elections.

With the exception of the American Civil Liberties Union, the plaintiff coalition was dominated by conservative groups such as the National Right to Life Committee, the Christian Coalition of America, the Southeastern Legal Foundation and the Club for Growth.

McConnell, R-Ky., filed suit immediately after President Bush signed the measure into law on March 27. He and other plaintiffs argue that the law violates First Amendment free speech rights by limiting ads that can be run in the days just before an election and by banning the unregulated ``soft money″ contributions that corporations, unions and individuals make to national political parties.

The National Rifle Association and other groups have filed separate lawsuits.

The main sponsors of the legislation, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Martin Meehan, D-Mass., say they are confident that the courts will reject the constitutional challenge.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington is to hear the case.

ACLU legal director Steven Shapiro said the law ``is not campaign finance reform. It is an unconstitutional restriction on speech.″

The plaintiffs also included several teen-agers contesting a provision in the law that bars those minors 17 and younger from making contributions to federal elections.

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