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One of Theodore Olson’s biggest wins before the Supreme Court as solicitor general was beating back Sen. Mitch McConnell’s effort to scuttle the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. Now, Olson is back before the Court in another case involving the law, but this time he’s working for the Kentucky Republican, not against him. Olson, who returned to his firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, after leaving the SG’s office in July 2004, filed a brief Nov. 14 on behalf of McConnell in Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission, set for argument Jan. 17. McConnell is supporting the Wisconsin group’s challenge to the law’s ban on using corporate funds for issue advertising in the weeks leading up to an election. That ban kept the group from running issue ads mentioning Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who was running for re-election. Olson sees no inconsistency in changing sides. He says that in 2003 he was fighting McConnell’s prima facie challenge to the law, while the Wisconsin case merely tests the law “as applied” to certain advertising. McConnell approached him to write the brief, Olson says. “Sometimes people find that hiring the lawyer on the opposite side is a good thing, if the lawyer did a good job.”
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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