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The Appeal: The Plaintiffs and the Defendants


Attorneys who will argue against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, in the order they will appear before the Supreme Court on behalf of the defendants.

Kenneth Starr
Client: Lead counsel, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other plaintiffs
Age: 57

Current job:
Partner, Kirkland & Ellis

Previous employment: Independent counsel, Whitewater, appointed 1994; solicitor general,1989-1993; judge, U.S. Circuit, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 1983-1989; counselor to Attorney General William French Smith, 1981-1983; associate partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, 1977-1981; law clerk to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, 1975-1977

Education: George Washington University, bachelor’s, 1968; Brown University, master’s, 1969; Duke University, law degree, 1973

Claim to fame: As solicitor general, Starr argued 25 cases before the Supreme Court. He is the author of “First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life,” a bestseller examining the Supreme Court’s influence on American culture. But he is perhaps best known for delivering a 445-page report on President Bill Clinton in 1998 outlining 11 possible grounds for impeachment.

Quote: “How d-a-r-e you — Congress — pass a law to nationalize speech! How dare you nationalize the Democratic and Republican parties of the states. We will not stand for this nationalization of speech. We’re free men and women! We’re free Americans! How dare you!”

Bobby Burchfield
Lead counsel, Republican National Committee
Age: 48
Current job: Partner, Covington & Burling; co-chairman of firm’s litigation group

Previous employment: Following law school, Burchfield clerked for Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit from 1979 to 1981. Thereafter, he joined Covington & Burling as an associate, becoming a partner in 1987. In 1992, he took a leave of absence to serve as general counsel of President George H.W. Bush’s re-election campaign.

Education: Wake Forest University, bachelor’s, 1976; George Washington University, law degree, 1979

Claim to fame: Burchfield has never lost a jury trial and was recently named by the Legal Times as one of the top trial lawyers in the D.C. area. At Covington & Burling, Burchfield has had principal responsibility for antitrust cases for such clients as United Airlines, E.I. duPont de Nemours, and the America Automobile Association; RICO defense for such clients as Tenet Healthcare Corp. f/k/a National Medical Enterprises; and corporate takeover defense for Total-Tel USA Communications Inc. He is currently defending securities law claims on behalf of Bank One and Itochu International, contract claim on behalf of Northup Grumman and Case Corp., and international arbitrations on behalf of Microsoft.

Quote: “What the court decision here has done is demonstrate that this statute is a monster. It’s got an immense amount of restrictive provisions in it, and as you analyze it closer and closer, it gets more and more difficult to defend.”

Floyd Abrams
Client: Arguing on behalf of the McConnell plaintiffs
Current job:
Partner, Cahill Gordon & Reindel

Previous employment: Lecturer, Columbia Law School, 1981-1986; visiting lecturer, Yale Law School, 1974-1980 and 1986-1989; senior First Amendment adviser and visiting professor of law and journalism, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, 1992-1993; William J. Brennan visiting professor on First Amendment issues, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, 1994-present; law clerk, U.S. District Court, Delaware, 1961-1963; Committee on Freedom of Speech and the Press, individual rights section, 1976-1979; Committee on Freedom of Expression, litigation section, 1977-1979.

Education: Cornell University, bachelor’s, 1956; Yale Law School, LL.B., 1960

Claim to fame: Co-counsel to The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. At New York’s Cahill Gordon & Reindel, he argued more First Amendment and media cases before the U.S. Supreme Court than any other lawyer in history.

Quote: “Attack ads are deeply protected by the First Amendment,” said Abrams, who was brief, straightforward and to the point. “Speech can be vehement and caustic and say terrible things about public officials, but it’s still protected by the First Amendment.”

Laurence Gold
Client: AFL-CIO

Current job:
Associate general counsel, AFL-CIO

Previous employment: Associate general counsel, Laborers International Union of America, 1993-96; Partner, Connerton, Ray & Simon, 1986-96 (associate, 1980-86)

Education: Amherst College, bachelor’s, 1975; Cornell Law School, law degree, 1980

Claim to fame: Gold recently succeeded in convincing a federal appeals court to strike down long-standing FEC regulations that allowed public disclosure of agency enforcement files.

Quote: “BCRA’s primary definition of ‘electioneering communications’ fails to adhere to the express advocacy line drawn by this Court since Buckley v. Valeo, and even if the government could ban other speech that is somehow connected with an election, the primary definition is overbroad.”

Jay Alan Sekulow
Client: Arguing on behalf of minor plaintiffs
Age: 47
Current job: Chief counsel, The American Center For Law and Justice; host of national radio show “Jay Sekulow Live”; chief counsel of the European Centre for Law and Justice; sits on the board of the Religious Heritage Freedom Foundation

Education: A graduate of Mercer University, Sekulow graduated cum laude, receiving both a bachelor’s degree and doctor of jurisprudence from Mercer University, where he served on the Mercer Law Review as an editorial staff member.

Claim to fame: Sekulow has presented oral argument before the Supreme Court in eight different cases in defense of constitutional freedoms. Two of the landmark cases argued by Sekulow before the Supreme Court have become part of the legal landscape in recent years in the area of religious liberty litigation. In the Mergens case, Sekulow cleared the way for public school students to form Bible clubs and religious organizations on their school campuses. In the Lamb’s Chapel case, Sekulow defended the free-speech rights of religious groups, ensuring that they be treated equally with respect to the use of public facilities. Sekulow serves as a faculty member in the Office of Legal Education for the Justice Department, where he provides legal expertise to federal prosecutors on the issue of obscenity.

Quote: “One of the most fundamental rights of Americans is to participate in the electoral process. To ban the participation of minors in political campaigns is not only legally flawed but discriminatory as well. The lower court understood that minors who wish to participate in the process by making donations to candidates represent a constitutional expression that must be protected.”


Attorneys who will argue in favor of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, in the order they will appear before the Supreme Court on behalf of the defendants.

Theodore Olson
Client: Leading government’s defense of BCRA
Age: 63
Current job: 42nd solicitor general of the United States

Previous employment: Olson served President Ronald Reagan as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1981 to 1984. Before being named to that post, he was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he practiced constitutional, media, commercial and appellate litigation. After completing his service as assistant attorney general, Olson returned to the firm’s D.C. office, engaging in the practice of constitutional and appellate law and general litigation.

Education: University of the Pacific, Stockton, Calif., bachelor’s, 1962; University of California at Berkeley, LL.B, 1965

Claim to fame:Olson has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court — 14 while in private practice and 18 while serving in government. Before rejoining the Justice Department in 2001, he successfully represented presidential candidate George W. Bush and vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 presidential election.

Quote: “Both in campaign-finance legislation and in a broad range of other laws, Congress has limited the flow of money to federal officers in order to safeguard the integrity of government operations. Because federal elected office-holders are inextricably linked to their political parties, Congress reasonably concluded that large donations to party committees

Seth Waxman
Client: Defending BCRA on behalf of Congressional sponsors of the law
Age: 42
Current job: Partner, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering

Previous employment: Before joining Wilmer, Cutler in 2001, Waxman served as the 41st solicitor general of the United States from 1997 until January 2001. Prior to his appointment as solicitor general, Waxman served in a number of other positions during his nearly seven years at the Justice Department, including acting solicitor general, acting deputy attorney general, principal deputy solicitor general and associate deputy attorney general. Before entering government service in 1994, Waxman practiced law for 17 years in Washington, D.C., and was a partner at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin. He launched his law career following his graduation from Yale when he clerked for Judge Gerhard Gesell of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. He is a former visiting fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and taught as a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Education: Harvard University, bachelor’s, 1973; Yale Law School, law degree, 1977

Claim to fame: Waxman argued 30 cases before the Supreme Court as solicitor general. In 2001, he received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Justice Department’s highest honor and was named an honorary special agent of the FBI in recognition of his exceptional service to law enforcement.

Quote: “The First Amendment does not condemn us to a debased political process awash in unlimited, disguised donations. We need not confront daily the demoralizing show of elected officials chasing immense contributions that everyone knows buy preferential access and influence. We can have both free speech and a government of which our citizens are proud. The court has marked the way to do that, and Congress has followed its path.”

Paul Clement
Client: Arguing on behalf of the government
Age: 37
Current job: Principal deputy solicitor general

Previous employment: Former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia during the Supreme Court’s 1993 term. Also a top Senate committee aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft when Ashcroft was a Republican Senator from Missouri. He has worked for prestigious law firms King & Spalding and Kirkland & Ellis.

Education: Georgetown University, B.S.F.S.; Harvard University, law degree

Claim to fame: Clement earlier this year successfully argued before the Supreme Court the case of FEC v. Beaumont, which required ideological, nonprofit groups to follow the same campaign finance rules as other organizations.

Quote: “If a group wants to express ideas in the form of political contributions, all it has to do is segregate those funds in a political action committee, disclose its contributors and limit contributions to $5,000 per campaign. No one has a right to make unlimited campaign contributions, or to contribute covertly without disclosure.”

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