Van Hollen v. FEC: U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Van Hollen's Petition for Rehearing En Banc

Court Level
DC Circuit

Rep. Christopher Van Hollen  asked the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear his challenge to a Federal Election Commission rule allowing groups running political ads to avoid disclosure requirements passed by the McCain-Feingold Act.

The FEC rule under challenge narrowed the law to require groups to report only those donors who “earmarked” their contributions for electioneering communications (political ads) –effectively making donor disclosure purely optional. Predictably, its adoption led to the rise of dark money, as politically-active 501(c)(4) groups such as Americans for Prosperity and Patriot Majority USA took advantage of the loophole to avoid disclosing their big contributors. 

The petition filed today gives all of the judges of the Court of Appeals the opportunity to reconsider an earlier ruling of a three-judge panel of the Court, which overturned the district court’s decision that the FEC’s rule was “arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.”

Lawyers for the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen are part of Rep. Van Hollen’s pro bono legal team, led by Catherine Carroll of the law firm WilmerHale.