FEC v. National Rifle Association (00-5163)
On August 23, 2001, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the Commission's petitions to have this case reheard by a panel of the court and heard en banc. The Commission had asked the court to revisit a portion of its June 29, 2001 ruling. Although the court denied the FEC's petitions, it did—at the Commission's request—clarify that the NRA's 1980 exemption applied only to corporate independent expenditures and not to corporate contributions to candidates. The court did not address whether the standard it used to determine that the NRA qualified for this limited exemption should be applied on a calendar-year or election-cycle basis.
On June 29, 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that the National Rifle Association (the NRA) and its lobbying organization, the NRA American Institute for Legal Action (ILA), violated the FECA's ban on corporate contributions and expenditures during the 1978, 1980 and 1982 election cycles. However, the appellate court determined that during 1980 the NRA qualified for a constitutionally-mandated exemption from the ban. As a result, the appeals court remanded the case to the lower court in order to have civil penalties calculated based on the 1978 and 1982 violations alone.