Antosh v. FEC (85-2036)
On April 4, 1986, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order which granted the FEC's motion for summary judgment in Antosh v. FEC and which dismissed with prejudice plaintiff Edward Antosh's complaint. (Civil Action No. 85-2036.) The court held that, under Article III of the Constitution, Mr. Antosh lacked standing to seek judicial review of the FEC's dismissal of his administrative complaint.
A resident of Oklahoma, Mr. Antosh had filed his administrative complaint with the FEC in April 1984. In the complaint, he alleged that: (1) the Engineers Political Education Committee (EPEC), the separate segregated fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers, had violated the election law by making excessive contributions to Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini's 1982 primary campaign (the campaign); and (2) the campaign had violated the election law by accepting the excessive contributions. The Commission determined that there was reason to believe EPEC had violated the election law by making excessive contributions to Senator DeConcini's reelection campaign. However, in a tie vote, the agency failed to find reason to believe that the campaign had violated the law.
On June 21, 1985, Mr. Antosh filed suit with the district court. He claimed that the FEC's determination that the campaign had not violated the law was arbitrary and capricious. In cross motions for summary judgment, Mr. Antosh claimed that he had standing to bring suit because, under the election law, "[a]ny party aggrieved by an order of the Commission dismissing a complaint filed by such party...may file a petition with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia." 2 U.S.C. §437g(a)(8)(A).
District court's ruling
In ruling that Mr. Antosh lacked standing to seek judicial review of the FEC's determination, the court referred to the requirement that an aggrieved party must "show that he personally has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant...." to establish standing under Article III.
The court held that Mr. Antosh failed to meet this requirement. As a citizen of and a registered voter in Oklahoma, Mr. Antosh had "suffered no greater injury, nor likely will he in the future, as a result of the Commission's failure to order a refund, than any other U.S. citizen who is neither a resident of nor with franchise in Arizona." The court concluded that "plaintiff has no interest save his own, which is, at the moment, only that of a public-spirited spectator of Arizona elections."
Finally, the court noted that the standard for qualifying as an "aggrieved party" (eligible to seek judicial review for an administrative agency's determination) was higher than the standard for filing an administrative complaint with an agency. "Congress can permit anyone to engage in proceedings before them [administrative agencies]. But it cannot confer upon a participant at the administrative level the right to maintain a suit to review the agency's decision in federal court, no matter how grievously he may be offended by it.... "
The court did not address issues related to the merits of the FEC's administrative determinations or its own jurisdiction to review those determinations.
Appeals court's ruling
On August 13, 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted Mr. James E. Antosh's motion to dismiss his appeal of the April 1986 decision handed down by the U.S. District Court.