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McConnell v. FEC

Supreme Court of the United States

September 8, 2003, Argued ; December 10, 2003, Decided

(No. 02-1674), (No. 02-1675), (No. 02-1676), (No. 02-1702), (No. 02-1727), (No. 02-1733), (No. 02-1734), (No. 02-1740), (No. 02-1747), (No. 02-1753), (No. 02-1755), (No. 02-1756)

Opinion

 [*114]  [**643]  Justice Stevens and Justice O'Connor delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles I and II. 1

 [****46]  The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), 116 Stat 81, contains a series of amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA), 86 Stat 11, as amended, 2 USC § 431 et seq. (2000 ed. and Supp. II) [2 USCS §§ 431 et seq.], the Communications Act of 1934, 48 Stat 1088, as amended, 47 USC § 315 (2000 ed. and Supp. II) [47 USCS § 315], and other portions of the United States Code, 18 USC § 607 (Supp. II) [18 USCS § 607], 36 USC§§ 510-511 (Supp. II) [36 USCS §§ 510-511], that are challenged in these cases. 2 In this opinion we discuss Titles I and II of BCRA. The opinion of the Court delivered by The Chief Justice, post, p ____, 157 L. Ed. 2d, at 599, discusses Titles III and IV, and the opinion of the Court delivered by Justice Breyer, post, p ____, 157 L. Ed. 2d, at 605, discusses Title V.

 [*115]  [****47]  I

More than a century ago the "sober-minded Elihu Root" advocated legislation [**644]  that would prohibit political contributions by corporations in order to prevent "'the great aggregations of wealth, from using their corporate funds, directly or indirectly,'" to elect legislators who would "'vote for their protection and the advancement of their interests as against those of the public.'"  United States v. Automobile Workers, 352 U.S. 567, 571, 1 L. Ed. 2d 563, 77 S. Ct. 529 (1957) (quoting E. Root, Addresses on Government and Citizenship 143 (R. Bacon & J. Scott eds. 1916)). In Root's opinion, such legislation would "'strik[e] at a constantly growing evil which has done more to shake the confidence of the plain people of small means of this country in our political institutions than any other practice which has ever obtained since the foundation of our Government.'" 352 U.S., at 571, 1 L. Ed. 2d 563, 77 S. Ct. 529. The Congress of the United States has repeatedly enacted legislation endorsing Root's judgment.

BCRA is the most recent federal enactment designed "to purge national politics of what was conceived to be the pernicious influence of 'big money' campaign contributions."  Id., at 572, 1 L. Ed. 2d 563, 77 S. Ct. 529. As Justice [****48]  Frankfurter explained in his opinion for the Court in Automobile Workers, the first such enactment responded to President Theodore Roosevelt's call for legislation forbidding all contributions by corporations  [***531]  "'to any political committee or for any political purpose.'" Ibid. (quoting 40 Cong. Rec. 96 (1906)). In his annual message to Congress in December 1905, President Roosevelt stated that "'directors should not be permitted to use stockholders' money'" for political purposes, and he recommended that "'a prohibition'" on corporate political contributions "'would be, as far as it went, an effective method of stopping the evils aimed at in corrupt practices acts.'" 352 U.S., at 572, 1 L. Ed. 2d 563, 77 S. Ct. 529.  The resulting 1907 statute completely banned corporate contributions of "money . . . in connection with" any federal election. Tillman Act, ch 420, 34 Stat 864. Congress soon amended  [*116]  the statute to require the public disclosure of certain contributions and expenditures and to place "maximum limits on the amounts that congressional candidates could spend in seeking nomination and election."  Automobile Workers, supra, at 575-576, 1 L. Ed. 2d 563, 77 S. Ct. 529.

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540 U.S. 93 *; 124 S. Ct. 619 **; 157 L. Ed. 2d 491 ***; 2003 U.S. LEXIS 9195 ****; 72 U.S.L.W. 4015; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 10567; 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 13

MITCH McCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al., Appellants v. MITCH McCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR, et al. JOHN McCAIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR, et al., Appellants v. MITCH McCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR, et al. REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE, INC., et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, Appellant v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. VICTORIA JACKSON GRAY ADAMS, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. RON PAUL, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR AND CONGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al. CHAMBER OF CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, et al., Appellants v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al.

Notice:   [****1]  [EDITORS NOTE: PART 1 OF 3. THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN SPLIT INTO MULTIPLE PARTS ON LEXIS TO ACCOMMODATE ITS LARGE SIZE. EACH PART CONTAINS THE SAME LEXIS CITE.]

Prior History: ON APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

 McConnell v. FEC, 251 F. Supp. 2d 176, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7816 (D.D.C., 2003) McConnell v. FEC, 251 F. Supp. 2d 176, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7834 (D.D.C., 2003) McConnell v. FEC, 251 F. Supp. 2d 176, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7835 (D.D.C., 2003) McConnell v. FEC, 251 F. Supp. 2d 948, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7457 (D.D.C., 2003) McConnell v. FEC, 251 F. Supp. 2d 176, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7912 (D.D.C., 2003)

Disposition: Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

CORE TERMS

candidates, expenditures, contributions, parties, election, funds, soft, officeholders, limits, solicit, corruption, donations, political party, federal election, advocacy, campaign, donors, regulation, electioneering, soft-money, coordinated, organizations, restrictions, communications, spending, appearance, advertising, political committee, disclosure, fundraising

Governments, Federal Government, Elections, US Congress, Labor & Employment Law, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Right to Organize, Communications Law, Regulated Practices, Content Regulation, Advertising, Civil Procedure, Other Jurisdiction, Direct Appeals & Three Judge Courts, General Overview, Tax Law, Federal Taxpayer Groups, Exempt Organizations, Local Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Political Speech, Freedom of Association, US Supreme Court Review, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Criminal Law & Procedure, Bribery, Public Officials, Claims By & Against, Crimes Against Persons, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation, Legislation, Overbreadth, Administrative Boards, Federal Government, Abuse of Public Office, Illegal Gratuities, Penalties, Transportation Law, Private Vehicles, Safety Standards, Bumpers, Political Broadcasting, Vehicular Crimes, License Violations, Finance, Criminal Offenses, Congressional Duties & Powers, Elections, Time, Place & Manner Restrictions, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Overbreadth & Vagueness of Legislation, The Judiciary, Advisory Opinions, Vagueness