Law School Case Brief
Fec v. Akins - 524 U.S. 11, 118 S. Ct. 1777 (1998)
The Federal Election Campaign Act (Act), 2 U.S.C.S. § 431 et seq., imposes extensive recordkeeping and disclosure requirements upon groups that fall within the Act's definition of a "political committee." Those groups must register with the Federal Election Committee (FEC), appoint a treasurer, keep names and addresses of contributors, track the amount and purpose of disbursements, and file complex FEC reports that include lists of donors giving in excess of $200 per year (often, these donors may be the group's members), contributions, expenditures, and any other disbursements irrespective of their purposes.
A group of voters filed a complaint requesting the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to order an organization--which lobbied elected officials, disseminated information about candidates for public office, and had views that often were opposed by the voters--to make disclosures regarding its membership, contributions, and expenditures. The Federal Election Campaign Act (Act), 2 U.S.C.S. § 431 et seq., imposed extensive recordkeeping and disclosure requirements on political action committees. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) found that petitioner was not a political action committee within the meaning of the Federal Election Campaign Act (Act), 2 U.S.C.S. § 431 et seq. Respondent voters sought challenged that determination. The lower court found that respondents did not have standing to challenge the FEC's order. The intermediate appellate court affirmed. Respondents sought review in the United States Supreme Court.
Did the lower court err when it directed that respondent voters did not have standing to challenge the FEC’s order?
The United States Supreme Court reviewed 2 U.S.C.S. § 437g(a)(1) of the Act, which provided any person who believed a violation of the Act had occurred to file a complaint with the FEC. Any party aggrieved by an order of the FEC that dismissed a complaint filed by such party could file a petition in court to seek review of the dismissal. 2 U.S.C.S. § 437g(8)(A).The Court reversed and remanded because the injury related to voting, the most basic of political rights, and was sufficiently concrete that the fact it was widely shared did not deprive Congress of the power to authorize its vindication in federal courts. Respondent voters had standing to challenge an order of the Federal Election Commission that found petitioner was not a political action committee within the definition of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
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