Fourth Circuit Denies Rehearing in Challenge to Century-Old Law Banning Corporate Contributions to Candidates & Parties


Today, in U.S. v Danielczyk, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied a motion to rehear the case.  In late June, the Fourth Circuit had reversed a district court decision that had ignored U.S. Supreme Court precedent in order to strike down the century-old federal ban on corporate contributions to candidates and political parties.  The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed an amici brief in the Fourth Circuit urging the result reached by the Fourth Circuit.

The corporate contribution ban dates to the 1907 Tillman Act, which was signed into law by President Teddy Roosevelt in an era rife with political corruption and campaign finance scandals.  The restriction on corporate political contributions has been repeatedly upheld by the United States Supreme Court since its passage, most recently in FEC v Beaumont in 2003.

In May 2011 Judge Cacheris of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia issued a decision striking down the law, but he had failed to consider or even cite the Beaumont case.  The oversight led to widespread criticism and Judge Cacheris ordered a rebriefing of the case, but ultimately chose to disregard the Beaumont precedent in reaffirming his earlier decision.

“The Fourth Circuit corrected Judge Cacheris’ gross judicial overreach in the lower court and was correct in standing by its initial decision,” said Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel Tara Malloy.  “The constitutionality of the ban on direct corporate contributions has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court and the lower courts, and Judge Cacheris chose to simply ignore precedent.  The attempt to overturn the corporate contribution ban was an invitation to a return to the blatant political corruption and rampant scandals of the Gilded Age.”

The case, U.S. v. Danielczyk, was a criminal matter that involved numerous allegations of campaign finance violations, including that the defendants illegally directed corporate contributions to the 2008 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.


To read the brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, click here.