James Bopp, Jr.

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James Bopp, Jr. is a Republican attorney and has served as the Vice Chairman for the Republican Party since 2008. He has served as general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee since 1978.[1] In addition to extensive advocacy for the pro-life agenda, Bopp has represented several parties challenging campaign finance laws and disclosure laws, and according to his bio on theJames Madison Center for Free Speech "Mr. Bopp has participated in more than 60 election-related cases, including recounts, redistricting, and constitutional challenges to state and federal election laws" and was the chief architect of the controversial Citizens United case that went before the Supreme Court.


Recently, Bopp has sponsored an initiative titled: "Republican Purity Test," which "would require candidates seeking party contributions and support to agree to at least eight of 10 positions on issues including abortion, gay marriage and gun control." [2]

Bopp is the General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech, an organization whose website showcases Bopp's achievements.[3]. As ABC News reports:

"Bopp's efforts have attracted support from conservative luminaries and wealthy GOP patrons. Tax records show the board of the James Madison Center has received at least $95,000 from the DeVos Foundation, $300,000 from the Kohler Foundation, and $170,000 from the Roe Foundation. Among its board members are David A. Norcross, who has served as the Republican Party's general counsel, and former Michigan Republican Chairwoman Betsy DeVos, whose husband ran for governor and chairs the DeVos Foundation." [4]

Bopp is also the main incorporator for the Faith and Family Alliance. [2]. His law firm, The Bopp Law Firm represented the Leaders for Families Super PAC Inc which was put together at the 11th hour in December of 2011 to pump up the lagging campaign of Rick Santorum who gained almost 21% in the final count from a poll of polls on the day prior to the Iowa Caucuses thanks in large part to that PAC's efforts. [5]

Bopp on campaign finance disclosure requirements: “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.” [3].

Bopp's High Profile Cases

Wisconsin Right to Life

In 2007, Bopp represented the Wisconsin Right to Life Committee against the FEC in a lawsuit challenging a provision of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act. The Supreme Court found in favor of the Wisconsin Right to Life Committee and held that the McCain-Feingold act was unconstitutional as applied to this 501(c)(4) non-profit Corporation. [4]. The Supreme Court further held that the act did not apply because (1) the ads are not expressly advocating and (2) there is no compelling governmental interest in restricting this organization's speech. [5].

Citizens United

The New York Times credits him with being the driving force behind the Supreme Court ruling January 2010 in the Citizens United case, in which the 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. [6]

Recently, Bopp has been characterized as: "the driving force behind the case that led the Supreme Court in January 2010 to rule that corporations, unions and nonprofit groups have the right to spend as much as they want supporting or opposing the election of a candidate." [6]. Although Bopp was replaced by Washington DC counsel once the case reached the Supreme Court, Bopp guided the Citizens United case all the way through the appeals process to the Supreme Court. [7].

Protect Marriage Washington

Before Citizens United, Bopp has served as lead counsel for Protect Marriage Washington, an organization that has been opposing the release of the names of people in Washington, who signed a petition to place referendum on the ballot opposing extension of marriage rights to domestic partners. [8]. The district court ordered Washington's secretary of state not to disclose the names of the signers. [9]. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ordered for the release of the names. [10]. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court, which previously allowed the district court order to stand, has agreed to hear this case on the merits. [11].

Committee for Truth in Politics

In Oct. 2008, Bopp became counsel for the Committee for Truth in Politics and filed a complaint against the Federal Election Commission on their behalf. [12]. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the FEC's disclaimer and reporting requirements for electioneering communications. [13]. The Committee for Truth in Politics refuses to disclose the sources of their funding, specifically with respect to ads that ran in the 2008 election. The U.S. District Court has ordered a stay in Koerber v. FEC until the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case. [14].

Gableman Ethics Case

In 2010 Bopp was hired to defend Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman against ethics charges brought by the state Judicial system against a misleading ad released by Gableman in his 2008 campaign. The ad accused incumbent Justice Louis Butler of finding a "loophole" two decades earlier when he worked for the state as a Public Defender. "Butler found a loophole. Mitchell went on to molest another child. Can Wisconsin families feel safe with Louis Butler on the Supreme Court?" said Gableman's ad. In reality Mitchell served out his sentence and after being released committed another crime. Butler's defense did not result in Mitchell's release from prison, and had nothing to do with the later crime. In his defense, Bopp argued that the First Amendment does not allow courts to regulate the inferences viewers may draw from misleading ads. The Supreme Court justices split 3-3 along ideological lines in June 2010, and the Judicial Commission suspended the charges because of that deadlock. [7]

Authored Papers

Bopp and his legal partner Richard E. Colson are the authors of "The First Amendment Needs No Reform: Protecting Liberty from Campaign Finance 'Reformers'" which appears in the Catholic University Law Review of 2001-2002. [8]

SourceWatch Resources

External Resources


The Bopp Law Firm
National Building
1 South 6th Street
Terre Haute, Indiana 47807-3510
Telephone: 812/232-2434
812/235-3685 (fax)
E-mail: bcb@bopplaw.com


  1. Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom Firm Bio, Web page, accessed February 13, 2010
  2. John McCormich Republican Party Considers Alternative to Candidate Litmus Test Bloomberg.com Business Week, January 29, 2010
  3. Matthew Mosk [http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/citizens-united-fec-return-corporate-influence-peddling/story?id=9545153&page=2 Citizens United v. the FEC: The Return of Corporate Influence Peddling? As Supreme Court Weighs Landmark Case, Wealthy GOP Donors Bankroll Attack on Campaign Finance Law], ABC News January 13, 2010
  4. Matthew Mosk [http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/citizens-united-fec-return-corporate-influence-peddling/story?id=9545153&page=2 Citizens United v. the FEC: The Return of Corporate Influence Peddling? As Supreme Court Weighs Landmark Case, Wealthy GOP Donors Bankroll Attack on Campaign Finance Law], ABC News January 13, 2010
  5. Federal Election Commission FIling [1]
  6. New York Times James Bopp, Jr. Biosketch. February 13, 2010
  7. Brendan Fischer Wisconsin Supreme Court Ethics Issues May Lead D.A. to Re-Open Collective Bargaining Suit, PR Watch, December 23, 2011
  8. http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/cathu51&div=34&id=&page=