and have not demonstrated that resort to administrative channels would be futile.
The regulations to the FECA expressly provide that the FEC may reconsider an advisory opinion where the person to whom the opinion was issued submits a written request for reconsideration within thirty calendar days of receipt of the opinion. 11 C.F.R. § 112.6(a). Plaintiffs did not move for reconsideration, choosing instead to file this court action. Thus, unless a request for reconsideration would be futile, it would appear that the plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies.
Under the facts of this case plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that reconsideration would be futile. Plaintiffs argue that the FEC "misconstrued" their advisory opinion request. See Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs' Motions for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiffs allege that "in its effort to find a prohibited 'advance', the [FEC] ignored the [Club's] Advisory Opinion Request." Id. at 9. They further contend that the FEC "inexplicably misread the [Advisory Opinion] Request". Id. at 10. In light of these contentions the Court can hardly conclude that exhaustion would be pointless, or that reconsideration would not result in a different outcome. This is not a case "where it is clear beyond doubt that the relevant administrative agency will not grant the relief in question". American Federation of Government Employees, supra, 475 F.2d at 1292 (citations omitted).
One of the underlying purposes of the exhaustion doctrine is to promote judicial and administrative efficiency by increasing the possibility that no judicial decision will be necessary, since the complaining party's rights may ultimately be vindicated at the agency level. See McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185, 195, 89 S. Ct. 1657, 1663, 23 L. Ed. 2d 194 (1969); Athlone Industries v. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 228 U.S. App. D.C. 80, 707 F.2d 1485, 1488 (D.C.Cir.1983); Committee for GI Rights v. Callaway, 171 U.S. App. D.C. 73, 518 F.2d 466, 474 (D.C.Cir.1975). Requiring the plaintiffs to resort to reconsideration before seeking judicial review in this case will further this purpose. Accordingly, the Court holds that, at the very least, plaintiffs must seek reconsideration.
A related principle of judicial review with application to the instant case is the doctrine of ripeness: a federal court will not adjudicate issues which are not sufficiently "fit" or ready for judicial decision. See generally, Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 149, 87 S. Ct. 1507, 1515, 18 L. Ed. 2d 681 (1967).
In determining when a case is "fit" for decision, courts have held that where subsequent events or development of the record might place the court in a better position to decide the question, the case may not be ripe. See Babbitt v. United Farm Workers National Union, 442 U.S. 289, 300, 99 S. Ct. 2301, 2310, 60 L. Ed. 2d 895 (1979); Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 82, 98 S. Ct. 2620, 2635, 57 L. Ed. 2d 595 (1978); Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. 102, 143-144, 95 S. Ct. 335, 358-359, 42 L. Ed. 2d 320 (1974); Pacific Legal Foundation v. State Energy Resources, 659 F.2d 903, 915 (9th Cir.1981); McCoy-Elkhorn Coal v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 622 F.2d 260, 264 (6th Cir.1980); see also National Automatic Laundry and Cleaning Council v. Shultz, 143 U.S. App. D.C. 274, 443 F.2d 689, 695, 698-703 (D.C.Cir.1971) (implying that where the regulatory scheme expressly provides for reconsideration, a case may not be ripe until after reconsideration). Indeed, in Babbitt, 442 U.S. at 300, 99 S. Ct. at 2310, the Supreme Court stated that "even though a challenged statute is sure to work the injury alleged . . . adjudication might be postponed until 'a better factual record might be available'". (Emphasis this Court's, citation omitted). See also Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. at 143, 95 S. Ct. at 358 (1974).
In view of plaintiffs' allegations that the FEC misconstrued their advisory opinion request, the Court cannot say that it would not be in a better position to adjudicate the case after reconsideration. At the very least reconsideration will be helpful in "identifying [and] refining pertinent facts" involved in the advisory opinion request. National Automatic Laundry, supra, 443 F.2d at 695. The possibility of clarification of the facts and a different agency posture upon reconsideration requires the Court to hold that this case is not ripe for review.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court holds that plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies, that resort to the administrative process will not necessarily be futile, and that this case is not ripe for adjudication. Accordingly, the case is dismissed as to both defendants. The Court expresses no opinion as to the merits of plaintiffs' claims or as to any other issue raised by the parties and not addressed in this Memorandum.
An appropriate Order has been filed.*
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