Justia Election Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
Nadar v. FEC
This appeal concerned plaintiff's filing of an administrative complaint with the FEC alleging that various organizations violated election laws during their efforts to keep him off the ballot. The FEC dismissed the complaint and the district court subsequently granted summary judgment against plaintiff, later denying his motion to alter or amend its judgment. Plaintiff appealed. The court rejected plaintiff's claim of competitor standing where he sought to compel FEC enforcement against his opponents years after the campaign had run its course, and claim of informational standing where he asserted an injury that was not sufficiently concrete to confer standing. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal and concluded that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit because plaintiff lacked standing. View "Nadar v. FEC" on Justia Law
Wagner, et al. v. Federal Election Commission
Three federal contractors sought a declaration that 2 U.S.C. 441c abridged their freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and denied them the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fifth Amendment. FECA prohibited any "person" contracting with the federal government from contributing to "any political party, committee, or candidate for public office or to any person for any political purpose or use" in a federal election. The court sua sponte vacated and remanded to the district court to comply with immediate procedures set forth in section 437h, concluding that FECA's judicial review provision ousted both the district court and the court's jurisdiction to consider the merits of the claims. View "Wagner, et al. v. Federal Election Commission" on Justia Law
Van Hollen, Jr. v. FEC, et al
Appellee brought a lawsuit challenging 11 C.F.R. 104.20(c)(9), a regulation promulgated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), that purported to implement section 201(f)(2)(F) of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), 2 U.S.C. 434. The court held that appellee easily satisfied the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 702 and demonstrated his Article III standing by showing that he would be unable to obtain disclosure of information under the BCRA because of the allegedly unlawful restrictions imposed by section 104.20(c)(9). On the merits, the court held that the district court erred in holding that Congress spoke plainly when it enacted 2 U.S.C. 434(f), thus foreclosing any regulatory construction of the statute by the FEC. Moreover, employing traditional tools of statutory construction, the court did not find that Congress had an intention on the precise question at issue in this case. Indeed, it was doubtful that, in enacting 2 U.S.C 434(f), Congress even anticipated the circumstances that the FEC faced when it promulgated section 104.20(c)(9). The court reversed and vacated summary judgment in favor of appellee, remanding to the district court. Upon remand, the district court shall first refer the matter to the FEC for further consideration. View "Van Hollen, Jr. v. FEC, et al" on Justia Law
Libertarian Party, et al. v. DC Board of Elections, et al.
The Libertarian Party, along with its 2008 presidential candidate Bob Barr, contended that the District's failure to report the number of votes cast for Barr violated the First and Fifth Amendments. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Board. The court concluded that because the party had failed to show that the District's law placed a severe burden on its rights, the District's important regulatory interests were generally sufficient to justify the restrictions pursuant to Burdick v. Takushi. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Libertarian Party, et al. v. DC Board of Elections, et al." on Justia Law
Shelby County, AL v. Holder, et al.
Shelby County contended that when Congress reauthorized section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. 1973c(a), in 2006, it exceeded its enumerated powers. The district court disagreed and granted summary judgment for the Attorney General. Applying the congruence and proportionality standard of review in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. One v. Holder, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Shelby County, AL v. Holder, et al." on Justia Law
Laroque, et al. v. Holder, et al.
Plaintiffs brought suit challenging the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), 42 U.S.C. 1973c, arguing that, as amended by the VRA's 2006 reauthorization, section 5 exceeded the powers granted to Congress by the Reconstruction Amendments and violated the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee. The district court initially dismissed the suit for lack of standing but the court reversed and remanded based on the standing of plaintiff John Nix, who had announced his intention to run for the Kinston City Council in the 2011 elections. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment for the government, holding that section 5 was constitutional. While the appeal was pending before the court, and before oral argument could take place, the Justice Department changed its mind in light of some new evidence that it received in a separate proceeding. The Department subsequently informed the court and the parties that the Attorney General was withdrawing his objection to the proposed change. Three days later, the government filed its merits brief arguing in part that the case had been mooted by the Attorney General's actions. After considering the supplemental briefing from both parties, the court agreed with the government and therefore vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. View "Laroque, et al. v. Holder, et al." on Justia Law
Laroque, et al. v. Holder, Jr.
The citizens of Kinston, North Carolina, approved a referendum switching city elections from partisan to nonpartisan. Because Kinston was located in a jurisdiction covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Act), 42 U.S.C. 1973(c)(a), the city council had no authority to implement the referendum until precleared by federal authorities, and preclearance had not occurred. A candidate for public office claiming a state-law entitlement to run under the suspended nonpartisan system, together with other plaintiffs, filed suit seeking to enjoin the Attorney General from enforcing section 5 against Kinston. Count one of plaintiffs' complaint contended that section 5, as reauthorized in 2006, exceeded Congress' Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment enforcement powers. Count two contended that amendments made to section 5 in 2006 erected a facially unconstitutional racial-preference scheme. The court held that one of the plaintiffs, the candidate for public office, had both standing and a cause of action to pursue count one and therefore, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to consider the merits of that claim. The court held that, because plaintiffs' standing with respect to count two raised complex questions unaddressed by the district court and the parties' briefs, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of that claim and remanded for further consideration. View "Laroque, et al. v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law