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Froelich v. FEC


The U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, dismissed this suit on May 27, 1994, ruling that Francis E. Froelich and two other plaintiffs, all residents of Virginia, lacked standing to bring suit.

On June 14, 1995, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision and found the appeal to be without merit.

In their suit, plaintiffs claimed that the Federal Election Campaign Act was unconstitutional to the extent that it allowed House and Senate candidates to accept out-of-state contributions. They argued that such contributions to the announced U.S. Senate candidates from Virginia (also named in the suit) allowed non-Virginians to participate in the process of electing a Senator and diluted the value of the plaintiffs' participation. They further claimed that nonresident contributions created the appearance that an elected Senator is answerable to nonresident contributors. These alleged consequences of nonresident contributions, they argued, violated the 17th Amendment's guarantee that two Senators from each state shall be "elected by the people thereof."

The district court, however, ruled that plaintiffs' claims were too general, lacking the factual specificity necessary to establish standing for judicial review. The court said that the "abstract question of wide significance" and "general grievances" presented by the plaintiffs were more properly addressed by Congress. The court commented that if it were to uphold plaintiffs' claims, it would be "making legislative policy" and consequently "improperly interfering" with the legislative branch. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's decision.

Source:   FEC Record August 1995; and August 1994. Froelich v. FEC, 855 F. Supp. 868 (E.D. Va. 1994); No. 94-1777 (4th Cir. May 27, 1994).