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For the Plaintiffs: The Honor and Humility of Defending Political Parties in Court

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2004

Ray La Raja
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Sidney M. Milkis
University of Virginia


How did two political scientists, both lifelong Democrats, end up working for the Republican National Committee (RNC)? We did so with more than a little trepidation and only after consulting extensively with each other and our friends. Many considerations influenced our difficult decision to join the plaintiffs as expert witnesses in McConnell v. FEC, but the most important factor was that we shared a long-standing commitment to the party system and feared that the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act (BCRA), the most significant campaign finance legislation to be passed in 25 years, marked the dangerous culmination of a regulatory regime, born of the Progressive era, that weakened the parties' ability to engage in those activities that have made them so important to the working of constitutional government in the United States. Moreover, we predicted that BCRA would shift money and the balance of power away from political parties and towards interest groups, with serious consequences for American democracy.

© 2004 by the American Political Science Association

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