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John Hagelin, et al. v. FEC


On June 10, 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the FEC’s decision to dismiss an administrative complaint, which asserted that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was partisan and therefore could not lawfully sponsor Presidential debates, was supported by substantial evidence and therefore not contrary to law.  The appeals court held that, given the highly deferential nature of judicial review of the Commission’s decision to dismiss a complaint, the district court erred when it based its ruling against the FEC on the court’s own evaluation of the CPD’s explanation of its actions, rather than an examination of whether substantial evidence supported the FEC’s conclusion that CPD’s actions were not partisan.  The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court for the District of Columbia’s earlier judgment and remanded the case to the District Court with instructions to enter judgment for the FEC.


John Hagelin, Ralph Nader, Patrick Buchanan, Howard Phillips, Winona LaDuke, the Natural Law Party, the Green Party of the United States and the Constitution Party had asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to find that the Commission’s dismissal of an administrative complaint dated June 17, 2003, was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law. On August 12, 2004, the District Court had granted in part and denied in part the motion for summary judgment brought against the FEC.  It also granted in part and denied in part the FEC’s cross-motion for summary judgment.  On October 6, 2004, the District Court granted the FEC’s motion to stay its decision in the case, pending appeal.   

Source: FEC RecordAugust 2005; November 2004; September 2004; August 2004; June 2004; April 2004


Appeals Court (DC Circuit)

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District Court (DC)

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