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Campaign Legal Center, et al. v. FEC (19-2336 / 21-5081)

Summary

On April 19, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (appeals court) reversed a 2021 district court decision that dismissed a suit brought by Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Catherine Hinckley Kelley (plaintiffs) against the Commission.

Background

On August 2, 2019, plaintiffs filed suit seeking injunctive and declaratory relief for the Commission’s dismissal of their administrative complaint against Correct the Record (CTR) and Hillary for America. In their complaint, they alleged informational injury as well as a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The district court found they lacked standing and dismissed the APA claim because it challenged the Commission’s legal reasoning, rather than the "facial validity" of the regulations.

Analysis

The appeals court stated that contrary to the findings of the district court, the information sought by plaintiffs had not been previously disclosed on filings from CTR or Hillary for America. CTR disclosed its aggregated expenditures but did not indicate which were coordinated with the Clinton campaign. Because of this, there is no way to know what portion of the lump sum disclosures provide the information the plaintiffs sought. The appeals court noted that denying standing in circumstances of this sort would permit those who seek to circumvent full disclosure to block requests for information covered by FECA. The court concluded that plaintiffs have established an informational injury and have standing to challenge the Commission’s dismissal of their administrative complaint. Accordingly, the appeals court reversed the district court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Source: FEC RecordMay 2022; February 2021; December 2020; August 2019


Documents

Appeals Court (DC Circuit) (21-5081)

Court decisions:

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District Court (DC) (19-2336)

Court decisions:

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