Real Truth About Obama Asks Supreme Court to Protect Political Speech

Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom

1 South 6th Street

Terre Haute, IN 47807-3510


December 29, 2009

Contact:  James Bopp, jr.

Cell Phone 812-243-0825; Phone 812-232-2434; Fax 812-235-3685;

Real Truth About Obama Asks Supreme Court to Protect Political Speech

Last week, The Real Truth About Obama (“RTAO”) asked the Supreme Court to hear its case that seeks to allow citizens to freely speak about political issues without government interference.

A group of citizens formed RTAO in July 2008 because they wanted to provide accurate and useful information about then-candidate Barack Obama. Specifically, RTAO wanted to broadcast an ad explaining Obama’s support of abortion. RTAO also planned a website and wanted to distribute a letter in order to raise money for the ad.

However, if RTAO had proceeded, it was in danger of an enforcement action and civil and criminal penalties by the Federal Election Commission. Even though RTAO simply wanted to discuss issues without expressly advocating Obama’s defeat, the FEC rules may classify it as a PAC. PACs are subject to certain harsh requirements, including reporting the names of donors, a $5,000 limit on annual contributions, and a ban on corporate donations.

So RTAO filed a First Amendment challenge to the FEC regulations establishing what entities are PACs. RTAO asked for a preliminary injunction in order to speak before the 2008 election.  RTAO argued that challenged provisions were inconsistent with the Fourth Circuit’s decision in North Carolina Right to Life v. Leake (2008) and Supreme Court decisions interpreted and applied in Leake.

The district court denied the preliminary injunction, stating that RTAO was unlikely to be able to show that it would win on its First Amendment challenge.  RTAO appealed and the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court. The Fourth Circuit applied a “stringent” standard for preliminary injunctions that it claimed was required by a recent Supreme Court decision.

James Bopp, Jr., counsel for RTAO, makes the following statement concerning the case: “While the Supreme Court has recently acted to protect issue advocacy, the FEC has been going in the opposite direction by threatening to treat any group that does issue advocacy as a PAC. This case provides a unique opportunity for the Supreme Court to act decisively to protect issue advocacy groups from this threat and insure that prompt preliminary injunctions can be obtained in these circumstances.”

The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to hear this case in January.  The petition is available at under “The Real Truth About Obama v. FEC.”