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Election Law & Government Ethics | TAX SERVICES

Many key precedents that shape election law were litigated by Wiley Rein and its attorneys.  The following is a selection of cases handled by members of Wiley Rein's Election Law & Government Ethics Practice.

Supreme Court of the United States Matters

  • American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, 567 U.S. ___ (2012) (Brief of amicus curiae, U.S. Chamber of Commerce).  Summarily reversed the state supreme court’s decision prohibiting corporate independent expenditures under Montana state law. 
  • FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 127 S. Ct. 2652 (2007) (Brief of amicus curiae, U.S. Chamber of Commerce).  Upheld lower court decision ruling in favor of an "as-applied" challenge to the federal regulation of "electioneering communications."
  • Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. v. FEC, 546 U.S. 410 (2006) (Brief of amicus curiae, U.S. Chamber of Commerce).  Overturned lower court decision foreclosing all "as-applied" challenges to the federal regulation of "electioneering communications."
  • McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93 (2003). Landmark constitutional challenge upholding the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, in which our firm represented Senator McConnell, United States Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors, National Association of Manufacturers and the California Republican Party.
  • Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002) (Brief of amicus curiae, U.S. Chamber of Commerce). Struck down Canon of Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct that prohibited candidates for election to judicial office from announcing their views on disputed legal or political issues.
  • FEC v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee ("Colorado II"), 533 U.S. 431 (2001). Held that expenditures that a political committee coordinates with its candidates may be regulated as contributions on same basis as other contributions. †
  • Chamber of Commerce v. Vollor, No. 00-1225 (U.S. Nov. 2000) (Justice Scalia in chambers). Granted emergency Supreme Court stay of a state court injunction against independent political speech that did not contain words expressly advocating election or defeat of candidates.
  • Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party, 520 U.S. 351 (1997) (Brief of amicus curiae, Republican National Committee). Sustained state law forbidding a candidate to appear on the ballot on behalf of more than one party, so-called "Fusion candidates."
  • Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC ("Colorado I"), 518 U.S. 604 (1996). Established First Amendment right of political parties to make unlimited independent expenditures in support of their congressional candidates, holding FECA's limit unconstitutional. †
  • FEC v. Mass. Citizens for Life, Inc., 479 U.S. 238 (1986) (Brief of amicus curiae U.S. Chamber of Commerce). Sustained First Amendment right of corporations to engage in unlimited independent speech relevant to an election so long as they do not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.
  • FEC v. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, 454 U.S. 27 (1982). Sustained right of national and state political parties to assign their Federal spending limits to a common agent, e.g., the NRCC, thus permitting more efficient use of pooled resources. †
  • Common Cause v. Schmitt, 412 F. Supp. 489 (D.D.C. 1981), aff'd by evenly divided court, 455 U.S. 129 (1982). Sustained First Amendment right of political committees to make independent expenditures in support of publicly funded presidential candidates and struck down contrary federal statute. †

† Denotes cases argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Federal Courts of Appeals

  • Van Hollen v. FEC, No. 12-5177, slip op. (D.C. Cir. Sept. 14, 2012).  Overturned the district court’s order broadening the disclosure requirements of entities making electioneering communications and remanded to the FEC and district court for further consideration.
  • Center for Individual Freedom v. Tennant, Nos. 11-1952/11-1993 (4th Cir. Jan. 18, 2013).  Upheld in part district court’s ruling that portions of West Virginia’s electioneering communications statute were unconstitutional and affirmed the district court’s decision prohibiting West Virginia from enforcing prior versions of the law against CFIF.
  • Center for Individual Freedom v. Carmouche, 449 F.3d 655 (5th Cir. 2006).  Upheld First Amendment right of the Center for Individual Freedom to run television advertising discussing candidates for Louisiana Supreme Court.
  • Chamber of Commerce v. Moore, 288 F.3d 187 (5th Cir. 2002).  Upheld First Amendment right of Chamber of Commerce to run television advertising discussing candidates for Mississippi Supreme Court.
  • Republican National Committee v. Taylor, 299 F.3d 887 (D.C. Cir. 2002). Upheld district court ruling that RNC ads were not false, thereby denying claims for $1 million offered by the RNC to individuals who could prove otherwise.
  • In re Sealed Case, 237 F.3d 657 (D.C. Cir. 2001). Granted emergency stay of FEC's attempt to disclose information about an ongoing FEC investigation, followed by opinion that forbade such disclosure and an order 254 F.3d 233 (D.C. Cir. 2001) requiring the FEC to pay attorney's fee.
  • FEC v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee("Colorado II"), 213 F.3d 1221 (10th Cir. 2000); Colorado I, 59 F.3d 1015 (10th Cir. 1995).  See discussion above - "Supreme Court of the United States Matters."
  • Republican National Committee v. FEC, 76 F.3d 400 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Struck down a portion of the FEC's "best efforts" rule and sustained the remainder.
  • Rockefeller v. Powers, 74 F.3d 1367 (2d Cir. 1995) and 78 F.3d 44 (2d Cir. 1996). Rejected equal protection challenge to political party requirement that candidates for national party convention obtain substantial number of petition signatures to qualify for presidential primary ballot, sustained due process challenge.
  • Robertson v. FEC, 45 F.3d 486 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Sustained some challenges to the FEC's campaign audit, rejected other challenges.
  • FEC v. National Republican Senatorial Committee, 966 F.2d 1471 (D.C. Cir. 1992). Reversing finding that NRSC had improperly exercised "direction and control" of contributions.
  • FEC v. LaRouche Campaign, Inc., 817 F.2d 233 (2d Cir. 1987). Upholding the enforcement of an FEC subpoena, as modified. *
  • FEC v. Caucus Distributors, Inc., 812 F.2d 1400 (Table) (4th Cir. 1987). Enforcing an Administrative Subpoena issued by the FEC. *
  • National Republican Congressional Committee v. Legi-Tech, 795 F.2d 190 (D.C. Cir. 1986). Reversed lower court decision allowing copying for commercial purposes of donor lists that FECA required be filed with the FEC and stayed further action pending a ruling by the FEC on status of such lists.
  • Orloski v. FEC, 795 F.2d 156 (D.C. Cir. 1986). Upholding the FEC's interpretation of FECA as permissible and entitled to deference, and upholding the FEC's objective test for determining whether a corporate donation was made for the purpose of influencing an election. *
  • Carter/Mondale Presidential Committee, Inc. v. FEC, 775 F.2d 1182 (D.C. Cir. 1985). Finding the FEC did not abuse its discretion in declining to reconsider its final repayment determination. *

* Denotes cases in which Wiley Rein lawyers participated when formerly employed by the FEC.

Federal District Court

  • Center for Individual Freedom v. Ireland, 1:08-00190 slip op. (S.D. W.Va Apr. 22, 2008). Upheld First Amendment right of the Center for Individual Freedom to run television advertising discussing candidates for West Virginia Supreme Court.
  • Center for Individual Freedom v. Corbett, No. 07-2792, slip op. (E.D. Pa. Aug. 18, 2007).  Upheld First Amendment right of the Center for Individual Freedom to run television advertising discussing candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 
  • McConnell v. FEC, 251 F. Supp. 2d 176 (D.D.C. 2003).  See discussion above - "Supreme Court of the United States Matters."
  • Worldwide Entertainment Corp. v. Club for Growth, CV01-7279 (C.D. Cal. June 21, 2002). Use of image of "The Blob" from '50s sci-fi movie to depict U.S. budget was "fair use" and not trademark infringement.
  • Chamber of Commerce v. Ohio Elections Commission, 135 F. Supp. 2d 857 (S.D. Ohio 2001). Federal challenge to Ohio election law that was interpreted to regulate independent speech that did not contain express advocacy.
  • FEC v. Arlen Specter,'96, 150 F. Supp. 2d 797 (E.D. Pa. 2001). Challenge to FEC enforcement action concerning valuation of charter air service.
  • FEC v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee("Colorado II"), 41 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (D. Colo. 1999); Colorado I, 839 F. Supp. 1448 (D. Colo. 1993).  See discussion above - "Supreme Court of the United States Matters."
  • FEC v. National Republican Senatorial Committee, 877 F. Supp. 15 (D.D.C. 1995). Held that five-year statute of limitations was not tolled by administrative proceeding and dismissed FEC enforcement action.
  • Republican National Committee v. FEC, 1996 WL 409045 (D.D.C. 1994). Sustaining FEC's "best efforts" rule; partially reversed on appeal.
  • 1992 Republican Senate-House Dinner Committee v. Carolina's Pride Seafood, Inc., 858 F. Supp. 243 (D.D.C. 1994). Interpleader action disputing ownership of contribution from insolvent donor.
  • FEC v. National Republican Senatorial Committee, 761 F. Supp. 813 (D.D.C. 1991). Held that $2.3 million violation had occurred but that a $24,000 penalty was sufficient. Finding of violation was reversed on appeal.

State Courts and Agencies

  • Brian Melendez v. Minnesotans For Employee Freedom, Employee Freedom Action Committee, King Banaian, Brian Worth, Mike Murphy, and a Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, 11-0320-19823-CV, State of MN Office of Administrative Hearings (Order of Dismissal, Aug. 18, 2008). Obtained dismissal of administrative complaint regarding false political speech.
  • Common Cause/Ohio v. Ohio Elections Commission, 150 Ohio App. 3d 31 (2002). Defended dismissal of administrative complaint.
  • Chamber of Commerce v. Landrum, No. 2000-CA-2048 (Miss. Feb. 7, 2002). Appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court of a prior restraint injunction forbidding political advertising based on a loose interpretation of the "express advocacy" standard.
  • Elections Board. v. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, 597 N.W. 2d 721 (Wis. 1999) (Brief of amici curiae, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Restaurant Association and National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors). Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed charge of state election law violations; declined to adopt loose interpretation of "express advocacy."

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