The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), through strategic litigation, communication, activism, training, research, and education, works to promote and defend First Amendment rights to free political speech, assembly, and petition. We are the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.
CCP’s litigation team represents clients on a pro bono basis in order to secure their First Amendment rights. They actively pursue strategic litigation and file amicus briefs to those ends.
CCP also publishes research on the effects of laws and regulations that stymie First Amendment rights to free political speech. We track and analyze proposed legislation and regulations at the federal and state levels that could negatively affect these rights.
Additionally, we seek to educate supporters and the public at large on the benefits of these First Amendment rights and, perhaps most germane to our work, the importance of these rights to competitive elections and integrity at all levels of the political process. We communicate this information through published articles in newspapers, websites and magazines; through briefings and interviews with journalists; by appearances on television and radio; and via newsletters and an extensive website and blog.
Some major accomplishments since our inception in 2005 include:
- Contributed crucial original research and other evidence in every significant campaign finance case before the Supreme Court, and in several actions before lower courts. The Supreme Court struck down two key components of McCain-Feingold in Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission and Davis v. Federal Election Commission, and also ruled Vermont’s contribution limits were too low in Randall v. Sorrell.
- Increased our visibility and influence in the public debate. We are increasingly asked to contribute testimony, commentary, and research on the potential impact and constitutionality of proposed legislation by legislative bodies and executive agencies.
- We have directly represented plaintiffs in court challenges to unconstitutional campaign finance laws on First Amendment grounds, as well as supported efforts by others to strike down these laws. State and federal judges have rejected significant restrictions on First Amendment political rights in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and elsewhere.
Legal Director Allen Dickerson and his team are challenging – to name a few – a law in Indiana which prohibits campaign techniques used commonly by low-budget campaigns, a Colorado law that forces citizens to register and report to the state should they wish to voice a political opinion online. We have increased our legal staff from one individual in 2011 to a team of five full-time lawyers in 2012 and are currently counsel or amici in ten active cases challenging restrictions on free speech, more than any other time in the history of our organization. We filed, and won, a challenge to a statewide ban on campaigning in the state of North Dakota on election day, and a federal judge awarded us over $35,000 in legal fees when we beat the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in court after the agency refused to give a group an advisory opinion about how to comply with the law. In the judge’s opinion, “the FEC is supposed to be an expert on federal election law and its attorneys are required to know the current status of election law, especially Supreme Court and Circuit law.”
Why What We Do Matters: The Threats to Free Speech
The amount of regulation of political speech is still among the greatest in our nation’s history. The federal election laws and regulations currently contain over 376,000 words. The FEC has regulations for 33 specific types of political speech, and for 71 different types of “speakers.” There are nearly 1,900 advisory opinions and nearly 7,000 enforcement actions that provide guidance on what these vague laws might mean. Worse, these vague laws provide criminal penalties for violations, with the potential for politically motivated prosecutions that could greatly chill speech.
What They Are Saying
“The Center for Competitive Politics has taken the lead on defending the First Amendment against those seeking to limit and control political speech. Their successful efforts have led to more freedom for citizens to support the candidates and causes of their choice without government interference.”
Past President, Cato Institute
“The Center for Competitive Politics effectively advocates a perspective on campaign finance and the First Amendment that too often went unheard before their arrival. By producing important research, commentary, and analysis, the Center has added a new voice and made a serious contribution to the way elected officials, media, the public, and the courts view these issues.”
Chair, Political Law Practice; Perkins Coie
“Finally, there’s an organization dedicated to fighting for the idea that the Founding Fathers meant it when they wrote ‘Congress shall make no law…’ Many of my colleagues in the media have come to rely on CCP for straight answers, sound research, and a pro-First Amendment perspective on campaign finance issues.”
Columnist, Wall Street Journal Online
“The Center for Competitive Politics has provided invaluable and essential research to oppose the so-called ‘clean elections’ attack on core constitutional values of the First Amendment. My legislative colleagues and I have been helped greatly in our understanding of this important issue thanks to CCP.”
New Jersey Assemblyman
“As an FEC Commissioner I found CCP’s analysis, comments, and insight to be extraordinarily valuable to me and my fellow Commissioners. The so-called reform community has become concerned now that they are being aggressively challenged by CCP.”
Hans von Spakovsky
Former FEC Commissioner and Senior Legal Fellow/Manager at The Heritage Foundation’s Civil Justice Reform Initiative
How CCP Is Funded
In order to maintain its independence, the Center for Competitive Politics accepts no government funding. We receive funding from individuals and foundations. Approximately five percent of CCP’s funding comes from for-profit corporations. CCP is a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational foundation under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to CCP are tax deductible under the law.