District Court Urged to Reject Challenge to Disclosure Provisions Upheld by Supreme Court in Citizens United


Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, filed an amici brief in Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), urging the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss a challenge to the federal “electioneering communications” disclosure provisions upheld by the Supreme Court as recently as the 2010 Citizens Uniteddecision.

Plaintiffs are seeking to run broadcast ads referring to Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) shortly before Election Day without disclosing its donors.  The challenged law requires such disclosure when groups spend more than $10,000 on “electioneering communications”—defined as any television or radio ad that mentions the name of a federal candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election.  Congress enacted the “electioneering communications” disclosure law as part of the McCain-Feingold Act to curb widespread evasion of earlier disclosure requirements that applied only to “express advocacy” ads.  Since then, the Supreme Court has twice upheld the “electioneering communications” disclosure requirements: first in McConnell v. FEC (2003) in a facial challenge, and again in Citizens United v. FEC (2010) in an as-applied challenge nearly identical to the current lawsuit.

“Plaintiffs are openly asking the district court to ignore Supreme Court precedent—precedent set a mere four years ago by the Court in its 2010 Citizens Uniteddecision,” said Tara Malloy, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel.  “The Supreme Court has repeatedly and unequivocally recognized the vital public interest in disclosing the identities of those seeking to influence elections.  In light of those rulings, plaintiff’s entire 26-page brief is an attempt to convince the district court that the eight Members of the Supreme Court who upheld the disclosure provisions in Citizens United did not mean what they said.”

To read the brief, click here.