DC Circuit Decides EMILY’s List v. FEC

CCP’s release is here.

A panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has decided EMILY’s List v. Federal Election Commission, 08-5422.

We and IJ have made similar arguments in related contexts, elsewhere.  But, as we have never said them better, we quote directly from the court’s opinion:

The principles set forth in Cal-Med, Citizens Against Rent Control, NCPAC, and MCFL are rooted in the Court’s consistent holdings beginning with Buckley that individual citizens may spend without limit (apart from the limit of their own contributions to candidates and parties) in support of the election of particular candidates.  After all, if one person is constitutionally entitled to spend $1 million to run advertisements supporting a candidate (as Buckley held), it logically follows that 100 people are constitutionally entitled to donate $10,000 each to a non-profit group that will run ads supporting a candidate.


These Supreme Court decisions reflect, moreover, the commonsense proposition that regulation of non-profits does not fit within the anti-corruption rationale, which constitutes the sole basis for regulating campaign contributions and expenditures… In the words of the Fourth Circuit, it is “implausible that contributions to independent expenditure political committees are corrupting.”

Slip Op. at 15-16.

The case also rules unconstitutional regulatory restrictions on the non-federal side of federal/non-federal political organizations (not political party committees)–in particular, the FEC’s 2004 regulations on solicitations, contributions, and allocations, found at 11 CFR 100.57 & 11 CFR 106.




The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.