Hail Bopp

by digby

First, here's a reminder of the first serious teabagging initiative in Republican politics:

The Republican National Committee is headed to Hawaii this week for its winter meeting. One of the top issues on the agenda, being put forward in a series of resolutions on Friday by Indiana committee member James Bopp Jr., is whether the party's candidates will be conservative enough -- and what steps the party can take to enforce it.

Bopp is offering two key resolutions. The first is a test that requires GOP candidates to show that they hold conservative positions on eight out of ten key conservative positions, such as opposing President Obama on health care and the stimulus, in order to receive RNC funding. This has been commonly referred to in the media as the "purity" test. The other, which Bopp calls the "accountability" resolution, would empower the chairman to cut off party funding for a candidate if the chair judged them to be insufficiently conservative. In an interview with TPMDC, Bopp explained that the resolutions serve an important need of maintaining the party's credibility.

"Well, we would just like to pass some forceful provision that requires accountability and puts our money where our mouth is, not just talk," said Bopp. "We're great at talking a game, but people don't trust us to follow through, and that's what we're trying to fix. So if we put our money where our mouth is, I think people will believe us."

"The party already has the power to determine who receives RNC funding," said Bopp, explaining the accountability resolution. "This would empower him [RNC Chairman Michael Steele] to consider ideology. Currently, he does not believe he can do that, he has told me. He believes, and I think most chairman did, that his duty as chairman is to support all candidates without regard to ideology. This would empower him to consider ideology."

Who is James Bopp, you ask? Well, that's very interesting. He's the lawyer who put together the Citizens United case that just unleashed corporate cash into our system:
James Bopp Jr. likes to begin speeches by reading the First Amendment. He calls opponents, including President Obama, “socialists.” He runs a national law practice out of a small office in Terre Haute, Ind., because he prefers the city’s conservative culture.

And for most of the last 35 years, he has been a lonely Quixote tilting at the very idea of regulating political donations as an affront to free speech.

Not anymore. Mr. Bopp won his biggest victory last week when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions and nonprofit groups have the right to spend as much as they want supporting or opposing the election of a candidate.

Mr. Bopp was not present in the courtroom. His client — not for the first time — replaced him with a less ideological and more experienced Washington lawyer when the case reached the justices.

But it was Mr. Bopp who had first advised the winning plaintiff, the conservative group Citizens United, about using its campaign-season film “Hillary: The Movie” as a deliberate test of the limits on corporate political spending. And he shepherded the case through appeals to the Supreme Court as part of a long-term legal strategy that he says he has just begun.

“We had a 10-year plan to take all this down,” he said in an interview. “And if we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law.”

“We have been awfully successful,” he added, “and we are not done yet.”

The Citizens United case “was really Jim’s brainchild,” said Richard L. Hasen, an expert on election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“He has manufactured these cases to present certain questions to the Supreme Court in a certain order and achieve a certain result,” Mr. Hasen said. “He is a litigation machine.”

And what's next on Bopp's agenda?
Mr. Bopp said the next step in his 10-year plan is to roll back the disclosure rules.

“Groups have to be relieved of reporting their donors if lifting the prohibition on their political speech is going to have any meaning,” he said. Requiring groups that buy political commercials to report their donors is almost as punitive, he said, “as an outright criminal go-to-jail-time prohibition.”

From everything I've read about this man, he is not sponsored by corporations --- he's just a useful idiot for their cause, somehow truly believing that corporations have his best interest at heart. (After all, he's not a first amendment absolutist, but rather a zealot about the "freedom" to spend money in politics. Secretly.)

This is a very interesting person worth keeping a close eye on. He's a far right activist lawyer who's developing these election cases in this era of right wing judiciary dominance, while simultaneously working within the Republican party to ensure that the big money that's newly freed is spent on strictly approved conservative initiatives. He's a one man wrecking crew.