The Institute for Free Speech today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Campaign Legal Center v. 45Committee, Inc., urging the court to affirm the dismissal of a lawsuit against an advocacy organization—a lawsuit that could harm political speech.
The case stemmed from a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) against 45Committee, a nonprofit organization. In its amicus brief, the Institute argues that the district court’s dismissal should be upheld because an enforcement vote constitutes definitive action by the FEC, precluding a private enforcement suit. The brief explains that Congress structured the FEC to prevent partisan enforcement, crafting the law so that it must obtain bipartisan agreement before launching investigations.
Allowing private lawsuits following tie votes, as CLC urges, would eviscerate those protections. A partisan bloc of commissioners could effectively deputize private litigants to serve as enforcers against political opponents. Such an outcome would chill crucial First Amendment political speech.