James Bopp

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James Bopp
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationJuris Doctor
Alma materUniversity of Florida
Years active1973–present
OrganizationThe Bopp Law Firm
Notable work
Citizens United v. FEC
Home townTerre Haute, Indiana, U.S.
Board member ofRepublican National Committee, Republicans Overseas
WebsiteThe Bopp Law Firm

James Bopp Jr.. is an American conservative attorney.[1] He has repeatedly been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States by the National Law Journal,[2][3] and is most known for his work associated with election laws and campaign finance.[4]

His law firm specializes in First Amendment and constitutional law, strategic planning, campaign finance, election law, and representation before the U.S. Supreme Court.[5]

Bopp served as Indiana's Republican National Committeeman on the Republican National Committee, and was the RNC's Vice Chairman from 2008 to 2012.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Bopp is a native of Terre Haute, Indiana, and holds a bachelor's degree from Indiana University and a J.D. degree from the University of Florida College of Law.

Legal career[edit]

He has served as the general counsel for National Right to Life since 1978, the James Madison Center for Free Speech since 1997, and as the special counsel for Focus on the Family since 2004.[8] Bopp was the editor of Restoring the Right to Life: The Human Life Amendment.[9]

With regards to Human Life Amendment, based on his analysis of the Supreme Court composition, Bopp stated in 2007,

... now is not the time to pass state constitutional amendments or bills banning abortion because (1) such provisions will be quickly struck down by a federal district court, (2) that decision will be affirmed by an appellate court, (3) the Supreme Court will not grant review of the decision, and (4) the pro-abortion attorneys who brought the legal challenge will collect statutory attorneys fees from the state that enacted the provision in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars.[10]

According to the Campaign Legal Center, Bopp filed 21 of the 31 lawsuits it associated with challenging campaign finance regulations. All told, Bopp has spent 30 years fighting limits on campaign spending and is credited with changing the political landscape of the 2012 election. According to the Center for Responsive Politics. "It's safe to say that groups on the left and right have Jim Bopp to thank for their new-found freedom."[11]

In an interview with PBS' Frontline in 2012, Bopp said he was defending a "basically absolute" interpretation of the right to political free speech under the First Amendment. He said he is working to eliminate or loosen campaign spending limits, and to eliminate donor-name-reporting requirements.[12]

A study conducted in 2014 showed that Bopp was one of a comparatively small number of lawyers most likely to have their cases heard by the Supreme Court.[13]

Bopp represented a group of plaintiffs, including Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Republicans Overseas, and current and former U.S. citizens living in foreign countries, in a legal challenge to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) filed in 2015.[14][15][16] The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Crawford v. U.S. Department of Treasury, alleged that a number of provisions of the act unconstitutionally violate privacy rights of U.S. citizens, while burdening both private individuals and the financial institutions that they patronize.[17][16][14] In April 2016, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissed the suit for lack of standing.[16]

Republican Party membership and activism[edit]

Bopp is known for his staunch social conservatism,[18][19] and his past and present clients are "a who's who of social conservatism," including the Traditional Values Coalition, the Home School Legal Defense Association, Concerned Women for America, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.[19] Bopp is particularly known for his opposition to all forms of limits on money in politics and his role as counsel for groups seeking, often successfully, to strike down campaign-finance limitations.[19]

He became Indiana's Republican National Committeeman on the Republican National Committee in 2006, and became the RNC's Vice Chairman in 2008.[6] His tenure on the RNC ended in 2012 when he was defeated for another term by John Hammond at the state Republican convention. Bopp said after the convention that he was defeated because he supported Richard Mourdock over incumbent Richard Lugar for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012.[20]

In 2009, Bopp was the lead sponsor of an RNC resolution that initially called on the Democratic Party to change its name to Democratic Socialist Party. A compromise resolution was passed instead, condemning President Barack Obama and the then-Democratic congressional majority for "pushing America toward socialism and more government control."[21]

During a 2010 RNC meeting, he was the chief sponsor of a resolution covering financial support of candidates.[22] The "purity test" resolution (titled "Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan's Unity Principle for Support of Candidates") names ten public policy positions that are important to the RNC and stipulated that public officials and candidates who disagree on three or more of the ten positions would be ineligible for financial support or endorsement from the RNC.[23][19] The resolution was defeated.[19]

Bopp clashed with Michael Steele during Steele's term as chairman of the Republican National Committee; after Bopp criticized Steele, Steele called Bopp an "idiot."[19]

During the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, Bopp initially stayed neutral in the race because he was part of a committee charged with setting the number of Republican primary debates.[19] However, three attorneys in Bopp's office left to work for Herman Cain.[19] In February 2012, Bopp endorsed Mitt Romney.[24]

Bopp has repeatedly represented Indiana on the Republican Party's platform committee,[18] including in 2016.[25] On the committee, Bopp pushed for a socially conservative platform, advocating platform language stating that children "deserve a married mom and dad" and referring to "natural marriage" as between a man and a woman.[26] Bopp opposed efforts by billionaire Republican Paul E. Singer to add a statement to the party platform committing the party "to respect for all families," a signal of openness to LGBT Americans; Bopp called the proposed language "redundant and superfluous."[25] Bopp also opposed efforts by delegate Rachel Hoff (the first openly gay member of a Republican platform committee) to include a reference in the platform to the 2016 attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando; Bopp stated that including such language (which was ultimately voted down) would be "identity politics."[27]

Bopp opposed an effort by some delegates to replace the 60-page platform that the committee had adopted with a simplified two-page "statement of principles" that excluded any mention of contentious issues, such as same-sex marriage. Bopp write in opposition to the alternative proposal that: "Obviously, the adoption of this statement of principles would be a major defeat for those of us that want the Republican Party to promote traditional marriage since the minority report wipes out our current platform language that supports traditional marriage."[28]

Notable cases[edit]

In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, Bopp successfully represented McCutcheon. The Supreme Court struck down section 441 of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which imposed a limit on contributions an individual could make over a two-year period to national party and federal candidate committees, is unconstitutional.[29]

In 2011 in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, Bopp successfully defended the Susan B. Anthony List against a defamation lawsuit by Steve Driehaus, a former Democratic congressman who claimed that the SBA List had made false statements regarding taxpayer funding of abortion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[30] The court ruled "We do not want the government deciding what is political truth — for fear that the government might persecute those who criticize it. Instead, in a democracy, the voters should decide."[31]

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Bopp represented Citizens United, drafting the complaint and handling the early stages of the litigation. Bopp did not argue the case in the Supreme Court, having been replaced by Ted Olson.[32]

In Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Gableman (2010), Bopp successfully represented Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in a case alleging he broke the Wisconsin Judicial Code of Conduct during his successful run for the state supreme court.[33] The case was presented before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and resulted in a 3-3 deadlock decision.[34]

In ProtectMarriage.com v. Bowen, Bopp represented ProtectMarriage.com in a lawsuit challenging the finance limit required for reporting campaign donations and the open way in which information on such donations is shared in California.[35] This lawsuit was filed after the identities of people supporting California Proposition 8 were revealed as a result of disclosure laws.[36]

In Kurita v. Tennessee Democratic Party (2008), Bopp represented former State Senator Rosalind Kurita, a Democrat, in her suit against the Tennessee Democratic Party for removing her as the Democratic nominee in her State Senate district after she had won the primary.[37]

Other cases in which Bopp was counsel for a party or parties are:


Bopp's advocacy for certain causes incited one blog to call him "Public enemy No. 1 for fair elections".[38] Another blog called him the "constitutional terror of Terre Haute".[39]

Bopp said, in response to criticism over his plans to establish a "Republican Super PAC", "The Supreme Court doesn't care, and I don't care, and the Federal Election Commission doesn't care. ... No one that matters cares."[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Conservative Leader James Bopp, Jr. Endorses Mitt Romney". The American Presidency Project. University of California, Santa Barbara. February 7, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  2. ^ "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America". The National Law Journal. March 22, 2013.
  3. ^ "James Bopp Named One of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America". The Bopp Law Firm. The National Law Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  4. ^ Carter, Terry (November 26, 2006). "The Big Bopper". ABA Journal. American Bar Association. Archived from the original on November 20, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "The Bopp Law Firm". The Bopp Law Firm. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "NRLC General Counsel James Bopp Named Republican Lawyer of the Year". National Right to Life. September 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  7. ^ Press Release: Attorney James Bopp Files an Appearance on Behalf of Jodi Lohrman in Challenge to the Candidate Qualifications of Todd Young
  8. ^ "James Bopp, Jr". The Bopp Law Firm. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  9. ^ Bopp, James (1984). Restoring the Right to Life: The Human Life Amendment. Brigham Young University Press. ISBN 0842521003.
  10. ^ Becker, Daniel (2011). Personhood: A Pragmatic Guide to Prolife Victory in the 21st Century and the Return to First Principles in Politics. TKS Publications. pp. 90–91. ISBN 0983190305.
  11. ^ Jonathan D. Salant, "Election Spending to Exceed $6 Billion Thanks Partly to Jim Bopp", Bloomberg.com, September 21, 2011; accessed December 12, 2015
  12. ^ "James Bopp: What Citizens United Means for Campaign Finance", Frontline, October 30, 2012 (edited transcript of interview conducted July 27, 2012); interview used in part in "Big Sky, Big Money" documentary, correspondent Kai Ryssdal, broadcast October 30, 2012. Primary focus of documentary: Montana campaign finance law and politics; retrieved October 31, 2012.
  13. ^ Biskupic, Joan; Roberts, Janet; Shiffman, John (December 8, 2014). "At America's court of last resort, a handful of lawyers now dominates the docket". Thomson Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Crawford et al v. United States Department of the Treasury et al". Justia Dockets & Filings. Justia. July 14, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  15. ^ Goulder, Robert (September 16, 2015). "Litigating FATCA: Rand Paul And Financial Privacy". Forbes.com. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  16. ^ a b c Jack Newsham, Sen. Rand Paul’s FATCA Lawsuit Tossed For Lack Of Standing, Law360 (April 26, 2016).
  17. ^ Voreacos, David (July 14, 2015). "Rand Paul Sues IRS Over Foreign Account Taxes, Disclosures". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  18. ^ a b Jeremy W. Peters, Social Conservatives, However Reluctant, Are Warming to the Idea of Trump, New York Times (May 15, 2016).
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Viveca Novak, Citizen Bopp, The American Prospect (January 2, 2012).
  20. ^ Jim Bopp: RNC Ouster “Revenge” For Mourdock Support Indiana Public Media
  21. ^ Hallow, Ralph (May 21, 2009). "GOP condemns 'socialist' Obama, Democrats". The Washington Times. The Washington Times, LLC. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  22. ^ "Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan's Unity Principle for Support of Candidates" (PDF). Republican National Committee. MSNBC. 2010. Archived from the original (pdf) on December 28, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  23. ^ Wallsten, Peter (November 24, 2009). "Some Conservatives Push a 'Purity Test' for GOP Candidates". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  24. ^ Press Release - Conservative Leader James Bopp, Jr. Endorses Mitt Romney (February 7, 2012).
  25. ^ a b Jeremy W. Peters, Donald Trump Keeps Distance in G.O.P. Platform Fight on Gay Rights, New York Times (July 10, 2016).
  26. ^ Brian Naylor, GOP Delegates Draft Conservative Party Platform Ahead of Convention, NPR, All Things Considered (July 13, 2016).
  27. ^ David Jackson, GOP platform committee backs Trump on trade, foreign policy, immigration, USA Today (July 12, 2016).
  28. ^ Reid J. Epstein, Rogue Republicans Offer Alternative Platform That Skips Marriage Issue, Wall Street Journal (July 13, 2016).
  29. ^ "McCutcheon, et al. v. FEC Case Summary". Federal Election Commission. April 2, 2014.
  30. ^ Judge: Reform doesn't fund abortion, politico.com; accessed December 12, 2015.
  31. ^ Johnson, Dennis (2015). Political Consultants and American Elections: Hired to Fight, Hired to Win. Routledge. ISBN 1138786365.
  32. ^ "A Quest to End Spending Rules for Campaigns", New York Times, January 25, 2010.
  33. ^ Wisconsin Law blog entry
  34. ^ Stein, Jason (July 1, 2010). "State Supreme Court deadlocks on Gableman's ethics case". Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Journal Sentinel. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  35. ^ Perryman, Rianna (May 20, 2014). "ProtectMarriage.com v. Bowen". Willamette University College of Law. Willamette University. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  36. ^ "Prop 8 Supporters File Suit After Threats". Associated Press. January 10, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  37. ^ Whitehouse, Ken (October 1, 2008). "Kurita vs. Dems showdown set". Nashville Post. SouthComm Inc. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  38. ^ Angela Bradbery, Money & Democracy Update: James Bopp Jr. is Public enemy No. 1 for fair elections, citizenvox.org, October 14, 2011.
  39. ^ Karen Hedwig Backman, Bopping around in the state of Kansas, DailyKos.com, August 28, 2010.
  40. ^ Ryan J. Reilly, "Is New Republican 'Super PAC' Legal?", TPMMuckracker.talkingpointsmemo.com, May 18, 2011.

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