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White v. FEC (91-1201)



On April 24, 1992, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted the FEC's motion to dismiss this case based on the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge, which the court adopted as its opinion. (Civil Action No. 91-1201.)

William D. White challenged the constitutionality of 11 CFR 110.11(a), which permits candidates (except those receiving public funding [1]) to make unlimited contributions of personal funds to their own campaigns. Mr. White claimed that the rule violated the equal protection provision of the Fifth Amendment by conferring a privilege on candidates that is denied to other citizens. He sought an order compelling candidates to pay a penalty in the amount of their excessive contributions. He also sought a preliminary injunction barring candidates from making contributions to their own campaigns in excess of $1,000. The court denied that motion on August 26, 1991.


In ruling on the issues, the court pointed out that the Supreme Court upheld the challenged provision in Buckley v. Valeo. In that case, the High Court recognized that "the use of personal funds reduces the candidate's dependence on outside contributions and thereby counteracts the coercive pressures and attendant risks of abuse to which the [Federal Election Campaign] Act's contribution limitations are directed." The district court also cited California Medical Association v. FEC, in which the Supreme Court held that the disparities in the Act's contribution provisions do not violate equal protection rights.

Because the Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue raised by Mr. White, the district court found that there was no need to certify his constitutional challenge pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §437h.[2] The court therefore granted the FEC's motion to dismiss based on plaintiff's failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted.


[1] Presidential candidates who receive public funds are subject to a $50,000 limit on contributions to their own campaigns.
2] This provision provides for review of constitutional issues: the U.S. district court immediately certifies to the U.S. court of appeals all questions of the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Source:   FEC RecordJuly 1992