Home Menu ↓
Clicking on our sponsor links helps insure continued free access to this website.
Please support our efforts by visiting our sponsors:

 

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission

Docket No.: 02-1674
Argued: September 8, 2003
Decided: December 20, 2003
Consolidated with: National Rifle Association (NRA), et al. v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1675 Federal Election Commission (FEC), et al. v. Mitch McConnell, United States Senator, et al., No. 02-1676 John McCain, United States Senator, et al. v. Mitch McConnell, United States Senator, et al., No. 02-1702 Republican National Committee, et al. v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1727 National Right to Life Committee, Inc., et al. v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1733 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1734 Victoria Jackson Gray Adams, et al. v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1740 Ron Paul, United States Congressman, et al. v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1747 California Democratic Party, et al. v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1753 American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), et al. v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1755 Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), No. 02-1756

Topics:

Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly, Judicial Power, First Amendment, Standing to Sue, 19th Amendment, 9th Amendment, ADA, Abortion, Article I, Bill of Rights, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, Campaign Finance Reform, Civil Procedure, Commerce Clause, Double Jeopardy, Due Process, Equal Protection Clause, Federalism, Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Freedom of Press, Internal Revenue Code, Labor Management Relations Act, Medicare, Natural Resources, Tenth Amendment, Unions, antitrust, corporate speech, criminal procedure, disparate treatment, habeas, habeas corpus, harmless error, judicial review, murder, property rights, qualified immunity, retaliation, separation of powers, stare decisis, superior knowledge

PartyNames: Mitch McConnell, United States Senator, et al., Appellants v. Federal Election Commission, et al.
Petitioner: Federal Election Commission
Respondent: Mitch McConnell, United States Senator, et al.

Court Below: United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Supreme Court Docket

Federal Election Commission
v.
Mitch McConnell, United States Senator, et al.
540 U.S. 93 (2003)
Background:

1. Whether the district court erred by upholding portions of the "soft money" provision (section 101) of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), Pub. L. No.107-155, 116 Stat. 81, because it cons titutes an invalid exercise of Congress'power to regulate elections under Article I, Section 4, of the Constitution; violates the First Amendment or the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment; oris unconstitutionally vague. 2. Whether the district court erred by upholding portions of the "electioneeringcommunications" provisions (sections 201 , 203, 204, and 311) of BCRA, because they violate the First Amendment or the eq ual protection component of the FifthAmendment, or are unconstitutionally vague. 3. Whether the district court erred by holding nonjusticiable challenges to, andupholding, portions of the "advance noti ce" provisions of BCRA (sections 201 and 212), because they violate the First Amendment. 4. Whether the district court erred by holding nonjusticiable challenges to, and upholding, the "coordination" provisions of BCRA (sections 202, 211, and 214),because they violate the First Amendment. 5. Whether the district court erred by holding nonjusticiable challenges to, andupholding, the "attack ad" provision of BCRA (section 305), because it violates the First Amendment. 02-1675 NRA, ET AL. v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED 1. Whether Congress restricted co rporate and union "electioneeringcommunications" about candidates in Title II of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA") in order to serve a compe lling governmental pu rpose, as requiredby the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. 2. Whether Congress, in regulating identical speech differently depending upon themedium through which it travels and the speaker that utters it, adequately tailored the definitions of "election eering communications" in Section 201 of BCRA to servethe anti-corruption purpose proffered in support of those definitions. 3. Whether Congress adopted the least restrictive means of regulating political speech by flatly prohibiting "electioneering communications" by both nonprofit501(c)(4) corporations and for-profit corp orations alike in Section 204 of BCRA, rather than permitting 501(c)(4) corporations to fund such communicationsexclusively with individual contributions, as was initially contemplated by BCRA. 4. Whether the alternative "fallback" definition of "electioneering communications" inSection 201 of BCRA, as originally worded or as now construed by the district court below to prohibit, without temporal or other qualification, any broadcastcommunication that "promotes or supports a candidate . . . for office, or attacks of opposes a candidate for . . . office," comports with the First Amendment. 5. Whether Congress violated the Equal Protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment by granting a special exemption in § 201 of BCRA for political speech bycorporations that own broadcast facilities, as opposed to all other corporations whose identical speech constitutes forbidden "electioneering communications." 02-1676 FEC, ET AL. v. McCONNELL, SENATOR, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED In March 2002, the President signed into la w the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), Pub. L. No. 107-155, 116 Stat. 81. BCRA is designed to addressvarious abuses associated with the fina ncing of federal election campaigns and thereby protect the integrity of the fe deral electoral process.

Question Presented:

1. Whether the limitations on political parties imposed by Section 101 of BCRA are constitutional.2. Whether the funding limitations and disclosure requirements imposed by Sections 201 and 203 of BCRA with respect to "electioneering communications" areconstitutional. 3. Whether the limitations imposed by Section 213 of BCRA on coordinatedexpenditures by a political party committee are constitutional. 4. Whether the prohibition imposed by Section 318 of BCRA on contributions to federal candidates or political party committees made by minors is constitutional.5. Whether the reporting and record-keep ing requirements imposed on broadcast stations by Section 504 of BCRA are constitutional. 02-1702 McCAIN, SENATOR, ET AL. v. McCONNELL, SENATOR, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED Whether the three-judge dist rict court erred in invalidating on First Amendment grounds portions of the Bipartisan Campai gn Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), Pub. L.No. 107-155, 116 Stat. 81, including provisions addressing: 1. the raising, directing, tr ansferring, and use of funds by political parties, federalcandidates, and federal officeholders (BCRA § 101); 2. the use of funds from corporate and la bor union general treasuries to finance broadcast advertisements that are intended or likely to influence federal elections,and disclosure requirements for all such broadcast advertisements (BCRA §§ 201, 203, 204); and 3. the ability of political parties to make both "independent" and "coordinated" expenditures to support the campaigns of candidates they have nominated to seekfederal office (BCRA § 213). 02-1727 REPUBLICAN NAT. COMM. v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED 1. Do the restrictions imposed upon national, state, and local political parties by TitleI of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA ") violate Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, the First, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments, and principles offederalism? 2. Does BCRA 's requiremen t that the Federal Election Commission promulgate adefintion of "coordination" that does not re quire proof of an "agreement" violate the First Amendment? 3. Do BCRA's "Millionaires Provisions," which requires political parties to provide different treatment to similarly situated candidates, violate the equal protectioncomponents of the First and Fifth Amendments? 02-1733 NAT. RIGHT TO LIFE, ET AL. v. FEC, ET AL. Questions Presented 1. Whether the prohibition of § 101 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002(BCRA) on the solicitation, receipt, redirection, or use of "soft money" by any national political party for any communi cation that "promo tes or supports...orattacks or opposes" a federal candidate, vi olates the First and Fifth Amendment and principles of federalism.2. Whether the prohibition on federal offi ceholders and candidates from soliciting, receiving, directing, transf erring, or spending "soft money" contained in BCRA §101violates the First Amendment. 3. Whether the prohibition on state officeholders and candidates from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or sp ending "soft money" in connection with anelection for federal office in BCRA §101 violates the First Amendment. 4. Whether the backup "electioneering co mmunication" de finition at BCRA §201, orits construction by the district court, violates the First Amendment. 5. Whether the requirements that "disbursements" and "expenditures" be reportedas occurring when contracted for, rath er than when made, BCRA §§ 201 and 212, are justiciable and violate the First Amendment. 6. Whether District Court injunction should extend to activities outside the District of Columbia. 7. Whether BCRA §403(b ), permitting memb ers of Congress to intervene, and thepermitted intervention by Intervenor-Def endants without regard to whether they have Article III standing, violates the Constitution. 02-1734 ACLU v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED 1. Whether the district court erred by up holding broad new restrictions on so-called "electioneering communication s" embodied in sections 201, 203, and 204 of theBCRA? 2. Whether the district court erred by upholding aspects of the broad new"coordination" rules embodied in sections 202 and 214 of the BCRA, and dismissing the challenge to other aspects of those rules as non-justiciable? 02-1740 ADAMS, ET AL. v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTION PRESENTED Whether the District Court e rred in ruling that a challenge to the increased "hardmoney" contribution limits found in sect ions 304, 307 and 319 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), Pu b. L. No.107-155, 116 Stat. 81, 97-100,102-03, and 109-112 (codified as amended at 2 U.S.C. §§ 441a and 441a-1) is nonjusticiable due to lack of cognizable inju ry, even though the increases will conferpreponderant electoral power on wealthy donors and will effectively exclude candidates and voters without access to networks of large donors from electoral participation, in violation of the equal pr otection guarantee inco rporated by the dueprocess clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 02-1747 PAUL, CONGRESSMAN, ET AL. v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED FOR REVIEW 1. Whether the district court erred by di smissing appellants' freedom of the presschallenge to various provisions of BCRA, and to provisions of FECA amended by BCRA, on the ground that, in the area of campaign finance regulation, the freedom ofthe press guarantee in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution contains no greater rights than those protected by the guarantees of free speech andassociation? 2. Whether the district court erred by up holding the statutory exemptions in BCRAenjoyed by the "institutional press" and other FEC-license d press activities from the prohibitions against, and regulations of, electioneering communications andcontribution limits governing appellants, on the ground that Congress may, regardless of the freedom of the press gu arantee, grant greater rights to the"institutional press" than to the "general press," only the latter of which appellants are a part? 3. Whether the district court erred by holding that, regardless of the constitutionalguarantee of the freedom of the press, the fall-back de finition of electioneering communication in Title II of BCRA (as modi fied by the court) and the accompanyingprohibitions and regulations, are constituti onal as applied to appellants as members of the "general press" even though the institutional press and other FEC-licensedpress activities are exempted? 4. Whether the district court erred by holding that, regardless of the constitutionalguarantee of the freedom of the press, those appellants who are federal officeholders and/or candidates for federal office must, as members of the "general press," submit to the Federal Election Commission's licensing power and editorial control asprovided for in BCRA Section 101(a) (FEC A Section 323(e)), incl uding limiting their ability to assist candidates and causes they support, whereas members of the"institutional press" are exempt? 5. Whether the district court erred by hold ing that, regardless of the freedom of thepress, those appellants who are candidates for election to state office, must, as members of the "general press," submit to the licensing power and editorial controlof the Federal Election Commission as pr ovided for in BCRA Section 101(a) (FECA Section 323(f)), if they refer to a candidat e for federal office and the Federal Election Commission determines this to constitute promotion or support, whereas membersof the "institutional press" are exempt? 6. Whether the district court erred by hold ing that, regardless of the freedom of thepress, appellant Congressman and candidat es for federal office, being members only of the "general press," had no standing to challenge the constitutionality of FECAamended by BCRA Section 307(a) limiting indi vidual contributions to federal election campaigns, and mandating disclosure of cont ributor identities and donations, despitethe impact of such limits upon the editorial function of their campaigns for federal office, and by dismissi ng appellant candidates' press challenge to such statute limitsand requirements? 02-1753 CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY, ET AL. v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTION PRESENTED Do the restrictions imposed upon state and local political parties and party officers byTitle I of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA ") violate Article I, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, the First, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments, andprinciples of federalism? 02-1755 AFL-CIO, ET AL. v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED 1. Whether the prohibition of certain broadcast communications by labor organizations and corporat ions in BCRA § 203(a) abridges the First Amendmentinsofar as it incorporates the "fallback" definition of the term "electioneering communications" set forth in BCRA § 201, with its last clause severed. 2. Whether the provisions pr ohibiting coordinated expenditures in BCRA §§ 202 and 214(a) are constitutional in light of the statute's mand ate that no definition of"coordination" may require proof of "agreement or formal collaboration." 02-1756 CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, ET AL. v. FEC, ET AL. QUESTIONS PRESENTED 1. Whether the "electioneering communications" provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act ("BCRA ") (§§ 201, 203, 204, and 311), violate the right ofbusiness corporations and those who wish to hear their independent speech and associate with them under the First Amendment. 2. Whether the "coordination" provisions of BCRA (§§ 202 and 214) violate the First Amendment rights of business corporations and those who wish to hear their speechand associate with them. PROBABLE JURISDICTION NOTED: 6/5/03 Consolidated for four hours oral argument.Expedited briefing schedule.

Question:

Does the "soft money" ban of the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 exceed Congress's authority to regulate elections under Article 1, Section 4 of the United States Constitution and/or violate the First Amendment's protection of the freedom to speak? Do regulations of the source, content, or timing of political advertising in the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 violate the First Amendment's free speech clause?

Note:

Ruling Below: U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 251 F. Supp.2d 176.

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission
ORAL ARGUMENT

September 08, 2003

Holding: affirmed in part, reversed in
Decision: Decision: 5 votes for McConnell, 4 vote(s) against
Database Connection failed: SQLSTATE[HY000] [1045] Access denied for user 'restauz8_sophi'@'localhost' (using password: YES)