- Feb 9, 2007
In Valdes v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviewed the conviction of a police officer under the federal gratuities statute accepting cash from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for searching law enforcement databases for information. The D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, reversed the conviction, finding that the police officer’s action did not rise to the level of an “official act” as required by federal law because his use of the database was not part of a pending police matter and not part of his assigned official duties. It construed the term “official act” to include only those formal, official actions that are connected to a “class of questions or matters whose answer or disposition is determined by the government,” thereby greatly narrowing the scope and effectiveness of the federal prohibition on gratuities.
- Mar 12, 2009
Amicus brief filed by Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 in the D.C. Court of Appeals in support of Defendant-Appellee. Amici argue that the district court’s decision be affirmed.
- Sep 18, 2009
In January 2005, EMILY’s List challenged multiple FEC regulations regarding use of federal “hard money” to pay for activities directed at both state and federal elections. In 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down three challenged FEC regulations, holding that they violated the First Amendment and exceeded the FEC’s authority...
- Mar 2, 2010
On January 10, 2007, Unity08, a self-described “nascent political party,” brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging a FEC advisory opinion finding that it was a “political committee” under FECA even though it had not yet nominated its presidential and vice-presidential candidates. In March 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that that Unity08 was not subject to regulation as a political committee unless and until it selected a “clearly identified” candidate...
- Mar 2, 2010
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal's decision. Opinion for the Court filed by Senior Circuit Judge Williams. The judgment of the district court is reversed.
- Mar 26, 2010
Decision of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court concludes that the contribution limits set forth in certified questions 1, 2, and 3 cannot be constitutionally applied against SpeechNow and the individual plaintiffs. The Court further concludes that there is no constitutional infirmity in theapplication of the organizational, administrative, and reporting requirements set forth in certified questions 4 and 5. The Court also concludes that because of the decision made, as guided by Citizens United, which intervened since the entry of the district court’s denial of plaintiffs’ petition for injunctive relief, the district court’s order denying injunctive relief is vacated and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the decision.
- Mar 26, 2010
In March 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the federal contribution limits as applied to “independent expenditure committees,” finding that the Supreme Court’s analysis in Citizens United required it to “conclude that the government has no anti-corruption interest in limiting contributions to an independent expenditure group.” The court, however, upheld the political committee disclosure requirements as applied to such groups. These independent expenditure only committees are today commonly referred t to as “Super PACs.”...
Van Hollen v. FEC: U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Brief for Chris Van HollenMay 11, 2015
Brief of plaintiff-appellee Van Hollen addressing whether the district court correctly held that the Federal Election Commission’s regulation governing disclosure of the sources of funding for electioneering communications, 11 C.F.R. § 104.20(c)(9) (the “Disclosure Regulation”), is invalid; and whether the district court properly vacated the Disclosure Regulation upon holding it invalid.
Independence Institute v. FEC: U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Amici Brief of CLC et al. in Support of the FEC and Urging AffirmanceMay 15, 2015
The Institute challenges the constitutionality of the federal “electioneering communication” disclosure provisions, 52 U.S.C. § 30104(f), as applied to an ad referencing U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet that it wished to run on broadcast television shortly before the 2014 general election. Senator Udall was a candidate for re-election in 2014. Consequently, the ad was an electioneering communication and the provisions challenged here would have required the Institute to make certain disclosures about the financing of the ad.
- Jul 7, 2015
Opinion for the Court filed by Chief Judge Garland. Plaintiffs' challenge is rejected. Statute against all of the plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges are upheld.
- Jan 21, 2016
In Van Hollen v. FEC, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit once again upheld an FEC rule that severely limits federal disclosure requirements connected to “electioneering communications.” The appellate panel overturned a district court decision holding the rule “arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law” for improperly narrowing the scope of the McCain-Feingold law’s disclosure requirements and allowing nonprofit 501(c)(4) advocacy groups, 501(c)(6) business associations, and others to spend millions on “electioneering communications” without disclosing their donors.
Van Hollen v. FEC: U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Van Hollen's Petition for Rehearing En BancMar 4, 2016
Rep. Christopher Van Hollen asked the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear his challenge to a Federal Election Commission rule allowing groups running political ads to avoid disclosure requirements passed by the McCain-Feingold Act.
The FEC rule under challenge narrowed the law to require groups to report only those donors who “earmarked” their contributions for electioneering communications (political ads) –effectively making donor disclosure purely optional. Predictably, its adoption led to the rise of dark money, as politically-active 501(c)(4) groups such as Americans for Prosperity and Patriot Majority USA took advantage of the loophole to avoid disclosing their big contributors.
The petition filed today gives all of the judges of the Court of Appeals the opportunity to reconsider an earlier ruling of a three-judge panel of the Court, which overturned the district court’s decision that the FEC’s rule was “arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.”
Lawyers for the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen are part of Rep. Van Hollen’s pro bono legal team, led by Catherine Carroll of the law firm WilmerHale.
- Sep 15, 2016
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) sets individual contribution limits to federal candidates at $2,700 per election — with primaries, general elections, runoffs and special elections each counted separately.
- Nov 28, 2017
The DC Circuit Court issued an opinion in Holmes v. FEC, upholding the structure of FECA's contribution limits.