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BUCKLEY v. VALEO

January 24, 1975

JAMES L. BUCKLEY et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
HON. FRANCIS R. VALEO et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CORCORAN

 In their complaint the plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief against certain provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 U.S.C. § 431 et seq. (Supp. II, 1972); the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, Pub. L. No. 93-443, 88 Stat. 1263; and Subtitle H of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, 26 U.S.C. § 9001 et seq. (Supp. III, 1973), as amended, Pub. L. No. 93-443, 88 Stat. 1263, and against their enforcement by the defendants. The grounds of the complaint are that the statutes deprive them of the right to petition for redress of grievances, deprive them of the right of privacy, deprive them of due process of law and discriminate invidiously against them, all in violation of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments to the Constitution. Further alleged grounds are that the mode of appointment and confirmation of members of the Federal Election Commission and its purported power to administer, interpret, make rules and enforce said statutes is in violation of the constitutional separation of powers. The charges are detailed in paragraphs 52 through 84 of the complaint.

 This Court's jurisdiction is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 2201, 2202, and § 315(a) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 88 Stat. 1285, 2 U.S.C. § 437h [hereinafter cited as § 315(a)].

 Since they seek an injunction restraining the enforcement of an act of Congress, plaintiffs also seek to convene a three-judge district court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2282, 2284. The defendants have opposed that motion. Further, pursuant to § 315(a), plaintiffs request this Court to certify immediately all questions of constitutionality raised by the complaint to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. *fn1"

 The plaintiffs are four individuals (two of whom are Members of Congress, and one former Senator) and five organizations. The defendants are the Secretary of the United States Senate, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Comptroller General, the Attorney General and the Federal Election Commission. *fn2"

 I

 The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 as amended by the 1974 Amendments covers very comprehensively all aspects of the financing and conduct of future Federal elections, and the complaint is correspondingly broad, in that it attacks most of the key provisions of the Act on various constitutional theories. But, at this particular juncture, we focus only upon the meaning and effect of § 315(a). *fn3"

 The District Court in which a complaint is lodged is required to certify "immediately" all constitutional questions to the Court of Appeals for its Circuit, which, in turn, is required to hear and determine those questions sitting en banc.

 The judgment of the Court of Appeals on the constitutional questions, in turn, is reviewable by direct appeal to the Supreme Court, and any such appeal must be brought within 20 days of the decision of the Court of Appeals. Finally, both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are required to expedite any matter certified by the District Court.

 These unusual review provisions pose several rather obvious questions for the District Court, in limine, viz. :

 (1) Should the District Court make an initial determination as to constitutionality?

 (2) If so, must a three-judge court be convened for that purpose?

 (3) Should the District Court explore such preliminary matters as to the standing of each of the parties to bring a complaint?

 As this Court construes § 315(a) and the legislative history of Pub. L. No. 93-443, the answer to each of the foregoing questions is in the negative.

 The very essence of § 315, as the Court reads it, is speedy judicial review. The District Court is mandated "immediately" to certify questions of constitutionality to the Court of Appeals, § 315(a); the Court of Appeals is mandated to hear the case en banc, thus by-passing the normal panel determination, § 315(a); and the decision of the Court of Appeals, en banc, is reviewable by a direct appeal to the Supreme Court to be brought no later than 20 days after the decision of the Court of Appeals, § 315(b). It is to be further noted that it is the statutory duty of the Court of Appeals and of the Supreme Court to advance the case on their respective dockets and expedite the case "to the greatest possible extent." § 315(c). Such a mandated procedure would not seem to permit any activity on the part of the District Court which would involve the ...


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