George F. Will's tirade against the Brennan Center for Justice [op-ed, Sept. 5] misapprehends our basis for opposing the nomination of Bradley Smith to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). We oppose Smith not because of our disagreements over campaign finance law or policy -- of which we have many -- but because of his vocal hostility to the very laws he would be sworn to enforce.
Smith, the James Watt of campaign finance, has branded the federal campaign finance laws "profoundly undemocratic" and unconstitutional. "We should deregulate and just let it go," he urges. Smith even goes so far as to urge the abolition of the FEC, the agency on which he aspires to sit. Just as it would be inappropriate to appoint an Environmental Protection Agency head who advocates repeal of all environmental laws or an attorney general bent on abolishing the Department of Justice, we should not tolerate those attributes in an FEC nominee.
As to the charge that the Brennan Center, in its drive for effective campaign finance laws, is leading the "anti-First Amendment forces," I would remind Will that the First Amendment is first and foremost about our capacity for self-governance. When we allow money to dictate who runs, who wins and what laws they pass once in office, we nullify the purpose of the First Amendment.
-- E. Joshua Rosenkranz
The writer is executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.