Court Rules Against Anti-Abortion Group Ads

A federal court on Thursday ruled against an anti-abortion group that wants to run ads in Wisconsin that mention Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold (search), who is up for re-election this year.

Wisconsin Right to Life (search) wants to air the corporate-funded ads, and it asked a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Washington to issue a preliminary injunction to let it run such commercials. Feingold supports abortion rights.

The court issued a one-paragraph ruling denying the request, writing without elaboration that Wisconsin Right to Life wasn't entitled to the injunction. The group said it will appeal the decision.

The Supreme Court last year upheld the ad ban, which bars the use of corporate or union money for ads identifying federal candidates in the 30 days before a primary and two months before a general election. Feingold was a lead sponsor of the law.

At a hearing earlier Thursday, the lower court panel expressed skepticism about Wisconsin Right to Life's lawsuit, the first to challenge how the law is working in practice. In the case handled by the Supreme Court, several groups sued to overturn the law before it took effect in November 2002, arguing it was unconstitutional on its face.

Judge Richard Leon, who was part of a special fast-track panel that struck down part of the ad restrictions last year, told a lawyer for Wisconsin Right to Life, James Bopp, that the Supreme Court had already issued its verdict on the law.

"The Supreme Court was wrong," Bopp said.

"They're also last!" Judge David Sentelle interjected, to courtroom laughter.