Libertarian National Committee v. FEC

Libertarian National Committee v. FEC

The case was filed in 2011 and concerned the estate of Raymond Groves Burrington of Knox County, Tennessee, who left the Libertarian Party $217,734 in his will. Because that amount exceeded the annual limit on contributions to national party committees, the LNC was forced to place funds in escrow, withdrawing only the amount permitted by the FEC. The LNC seeks the full amount of the bequest, as well as the ability to implement a planned giving program that would solicit bequests exceeding the annual contribution limit.

On March 18th, Judge Wilkins of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia certified the following question to the Court of Appeals:

“Does imposing annual contribution limits against the bequest of Raymond Groves Burrington violate the First Amendment rights of the Libertarian National Committee?”

The standard justification for contribution limits is that they prevent some risk of corruption or “the appearance of corruption.”  LNC makes the simple and logical contention that Mr. Burrington’s bequest does not present the same alleged risk of corruption because, simply put, Mr. Burrington is deceased.  Without any clear threat of corruption, there is not a plausible connection between the “harm” of a bequest and the law.

On April 15th, the FEC filed a baseless motion requesting that the District Court alter or amend its decision because it was a “clear error.”  CCP filed its response on April 29th, noting that such a motion is inappropriate unless “there is an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.”  None of those factors are in play.  The FEC simply wishes to have another bite at the apple, to re-argue the same case that it has been fighting for nearly two years.

CCP is co-counsel with Alan Gura of Gura & Possessky, P.L.L.C.

Case Documents

DC Circuit Court of Appeals

DC District Court

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