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McConnell v. Federal Election Commission

May 1, 2003


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam *fn1



Presently before this three-judge District Court are eleven consolidated actions challenging as unconstitutional the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-155, 116 Stat. 81 (2002) ("BCRA") and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit its enforcement. The wide range of legal challenges raised by this litigation are highly complex, interrelated, and raise issues of fundamental importance not only to the conduct and financing of federal election campaigns but to the other rights involved that we enjoy under the Constitution. Because of the complexity of our positions, this per curiam opinion, by Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, includes a schematic description of the three-judge panel's conclusions in regard to each of BCRA's challenged provisions and a chart as to the rulings on each provision's constitutionality. The per curiam opinion also includes: (1) a brief history of campaign finance regulation in the United States (pp. 16-42); (2) the legislative history behind BCRA's enactment (pp. 42-50); (3) a procedural history of the litigation in this case (pp. 50-57); (4) a description of the specific provisions in BCRA at issue in these lawsuits (pp. 57-80); (5) certain Findings of Fact relating to the identities of the parties and BCRA's disclosure provisions (pp. 80-106); and (6) conclusions of law relating to claims of the Paul Plaintiffs and most of BCRA's disclosure provisions (pp. 106-170). The separate opinions of each judge hearing this matter follow thereafter.


In light of the number of provisions in BCRA being challenged, the complexity of the issues presented by each challenge, and the variety of positions and voting combinations taken by the three judges on this District Court, we set forth a brief description and a chart, on a section by section basis, of the various rulings A. Title I

Section 323(a) of BCRA bans national parties from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, and spending nonfederal funds ( i.e., soft money). Judge Henderson strikes this section down as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons, files a concurrence, joining with Judge Henderson, except with respect to the ban on national parties from using ( i.e., "directing," "transferring," and "spending") nonfederal funds ( i.e., soft money) for "federal election activity" of the type defined in Section 301(20)(A)(iii). As to that type of conduct, Judge Leon upholds the constitutionality of Congress's ban on the use of nonfederal funds by national parties for Section 301(20)(A)(iii) communications. Judge Kollar-Kotelly upholds Section 323 (a) in its entirety. Accordingly, Judge Leon's decision regarding Section 323(a) controls.

Section 323(b) prohibits state parties from using nonfederal money for "federal election activities" as defined in Section 301(20)(A) of BCRA. Judge Henderson strikes these sections down as unconstitutional in their entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons, joins Judge Henderson in a separate concurrence, but only with respect to those party activities set forth in Subsections (i), (ii), and (iv) of Section 301(20)(A). As to Section 301(20)(A)(iii), Judge Leon upholds the constitutionality of Congress's prohibition on state and local parties from spending nonfederal funds for communications that promote, oppose, attack or support a specific federal candidate. In a separate opinion, Judge Kollar Kotelly finds Section 323(b) constitutional and concurs with Judge Leon's discussion of Section 301 (20)(A)(iii).

Section 323(d) prohibits national, state, and local parties from soliciting funds for, or making donations, to § 501(c) organizations that make expenditures, or disbursements, in connection with federal elections, or to § 527 national organizations. Judge Henderson strikes this section down as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons, joins in that conclusion in a separate concurrence. Judge Kollar-Kotelly files a separate dissent in which she finds the entire section constitutional.

Section 323(e) prohibits, but for certain enumerated exceptions, federal officeholders and candidates from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending, nonfederal money in connection with any local, state, or federal election. Judge Henderson and Judge Kollar-Kotelly, for different reasons, in separate opinions uphold the constitutionality of this section in its entirety. Judge Leon concurs with respect to the restriction on federal officeholders and candidates receiving, directing, transferring or spending any nonfederal funds in connection with any federal or state election, but files a separate dissent with regard to any prohibitions on a federal candidate, or officeholder, from soliciting funds for the national parties.

Section 323(f) prohibits state officeholders and candidates from using nonfederal funds for public communications that refer to a clearly identified candidate for federal office and that promote, oppose, attack, or support a candidate for this office. Judge Leon upholds this section in its entirety. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs with Judge Leon's opinion. Judge Henderson, dissents and finds the entire section unconstitutional.

B. Title II

Section 201 of BCRA sets forth a primary, and "backup" definition, of an "electioneering communication" ( i.e., so-called "issue ads"). In addition, it sets forth certain disclosure requirements for those who fund these electioneering communications. Judge Henderson strikes down both the primary and backup definition as unconstitutional. Judge Leon, for different reasons, concurs in her judgment with respect to the primary definition. Judge Kollar-Kotelly dissents and upholds the primary definition as constitutional as discussed in her separate opinion. With respect to the backup definition, Judge Leon, who writes a separate opinion, upholds its constitutionality with its final clause severed. Judge Kollar-Kotelly, as expressed in her opinion, concurs in that conclusion solely as an alternative to this Court's finding that the primary definition is unconstitutional. Finally, with regard to Section 201's disclosure requirements, Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, uphold their constitutionality with one exception. Judge Henderson strikes down the disclosures requirements in a separate dissent.

Section 202 provides that disbursements by persons for electioneering communications, or contracts to purchase the same, that are coordinated with either a federal candidate or a candidate committee, or a political party committee will be treated as contributions to that candidate's campaign or political party committee. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, find this section constitutional. Judge Henderson, in a separate dissent concludes that this Section is unconstitutionally overbroad.

Section 203 of Title II prohibits labor unions, corporations and national banks from using money from their general treasury to fund "electioneering communications," as defined by Section 201. Instead, under Section 203, such communications must be paid from a separately segregated fund ("SSF"). Section 203 also includes an exception from the SSF requirement for certain nonprofit corporations ( i.e., the "Snowe-Jeffords exception"). Judge Kollar-Kotelly upholds this section as constitutional. Judge Leon joins Judge Kollar-Kotelly's opinion upholding the constitutionality of this section as it applies to the backup definition in Section 201. Judge Henderson strikes down this Section as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon additionally uphold the disclosure and SSF requirements as well as the Snowe-Jeffords exemption provision for certain nonprofit corporations organized under Sections 501(c)(4) and 527 of the Internal Revenue Code in their respective opinions.

Section 204 ("The Wellstone Amendment"), in effect, withdraws the Snowe-Jeffords exception of Section 203. Judge Henderson strikes down Section 204 in its entirety. Judge Leon concurs in her result as it applies to MCFL exempt organizations only. As to nonprofit corporations that do not qualify for the MCFL exemption, Judge Leon concurs with Judge Kollar-Kotelly's conclusion, but for different reasons, in upholding Section 204 as it applies to non MCFL organizations.

Section 212 provides certain reporting requirements for independent expenditures. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, conclude that challenge to this provision is not ripe for review, and therefore hold that the Court does not have jurisdiction to resolve the plaintiffs' challenges at this time. Judge Henderson dissents from this view and finds Section 212 unconstitutional in its entirety.

Section 213 requires national parties, in essence, to choose between making coordinated expenditures under the Party Expenditures Provision or unlimited independent expenditures on behalf of their federal candidates. All three judges concur that this section is unconstitutional. Judge Henderson's opinion includes a discussion of her separate reasons. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs in Judge Leon's separate opinion on this section.

Section 214 addresses coordinated expenditures paid for by persons other than party committees and candidate committees. Section 214 repeals the current FEC regulations on coordinated expenditures, and directs the FEC to promulgate new regulations that do not require "an agreement or formal collaboration to establish coordination." Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, find that the plaintiffs' challenge under Section 214(b) and Section 214(c) is non-justiciable and the Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to consider their challenge. As to Sections 214(a) and 214(d), however, they find those sections constitutional for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion. Judge Henderson dissents, finding the Section unconstitutional in its entirety.

C. Title III and V

Sections 304, 316, & 319, collectively known as the "Millionaire Provisions," allow opponents of self-financed candidates, and in certain circumstances, to raise money in larger increments and accept unlimited coordinated party expenditures. All three judges conclude, for the reasons set forth in Judge Henderson's opinion, that this Court lacks standing to entertain challenges to these provisions.

Section 305 denies a candidate the "lowest unit charge" for broadcast advertisements on radio and television unless the candidate promises not to refer to another candidate in his or her advertisements. For the reasons set forth in Judge Henderson's opinion, all three judges conclude that this Court lacks standing to entertain the plaintiffs' challenge at this time.

As explained in Judge Henderson's opinion, the Court similarly finds that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge Section 307, which increases and indexes contribution limits.

Section 311 establishes certain disclosure requirements for the sponsors of electioneering communications. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, uphold this provision as constitutional. Judge Henderson, dissents, and finds this section unconstitutional for the reasons set forth in her opinion.

Section 318 prohibits donations by minors to federal candidates, or to a committee of a political party. All three judges agree that this section is unconstitutional. Each judge writes a separate concurrence setting forth his/her reasoning as to this section.

Section 504 requires broadcast licenses to collect and disclose records of any request to purchase broadcast time for communications that "is made by or on behalf of a legally qualified candidate for public office" or that relates "to any political matter of national importance," including communications relating to "a legally qualified candidate," "any election to federal office," and "a national legislative issue of public importance." Judge Henderson finds this section unconstitutional. Judge Leon and Judge Kollar-Kotelly, concur in that result, but not in her reasoning. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs in Judge Leon's separate opinion on this section.

Chart of the Court's Rulings

BCRA Provision | Constitutional | Unconstitutional | Non-justiciable

323(a): nonfederal fund restrictions on national parties | Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon (only as to using nonfederal funds for 301(20)(A)(iii) activities) | Judge Henderson Judge Leon (except as to using nonfederal funds for 301(20)(A)(iii) activities) | ---

323(b): nonfederal fund restrictions on "federal election activity" by state and local parties | Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon (only as to 301(20)(A)(iii) activities) | Judge Henderson Judge Leon (only as to 301(20)(A)(i),(ii), (iv) activities) | ---

301(20): definition of "federal election activity" | Judge Kollar- Kotelly Judge Leon (only as to 301(20)(A)(iii)) | Judge Henderson Judge Leon (only as to 301(20)(A)(i),(ii), (iv)) | ---

323(d): nonfederal fund restrictions on tax-exempt organizations | Judge Kollar-Kotelly | Judge Henderson Judge Leon | ---

323(e): nonfederal fund restrictions on federal candidates | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar- Kotelly Judge Leon (except solicitation of nonfederal funds) | Judge Leon (only as to solicitation of nonfederal funds) | ---

323(f): nonfederal fund restrictions on state candidates | Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon | Judge Henderson | ---

201: "electioneering communication" definition | Judge Kollar- Kotelly (primary definition and, in the alternative, backup definition) Judge Leon (backup definition only) | Judge Henderson (primary and backup definitions) Judge Leon (only as to primary definition) | ---

201: disclosure of "electioneering communications" | Judge Kollar- Kotelly (severing subsection (5)) Judge Leon (severing subsection (5)) | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar- Kotelly (subsection (5) only) Judge Leon (subsection (5) only) | ---

202: coordinated "electioneering communications" as contributions | Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon | Judge Henderson | ---

203: prohibition of "electioneering communications" by corporations and unions | Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon (as to backup definition) | Judge Henderson | ---

204: nonprofit organization exception ("Wellstone Amendment") | Judge Kollar- Kotelly Judge Leon (as to non-MCFL groups) | Judge Henderson Judge Leon (as to MCFL groups) | ---

212: disclosure of independent expenditures | --- | Judge Henderson | Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon

213: choice between independent and coordinated expenditures | --- | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar- Kotelly Judge Leon | ---

214: definition of coordinated communications | Judge Kollar-Kotelly (as to 214(a) and 214(d))) Judge Leon (as to 214(a) and 214(d)) | Judge Henderson | Judge Kollar- Kotelly (as to remainder of 214) Judge Leon (as to remainder of 214)

304, 316, & 319: "Millionaire Provisions" | --- | --- | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar- Kotelly Judge Leon

305: limitation on lowest unit charge for candidates referring to other candidates | --- | --- | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon

307: increased contribution limits and indexing of limits | --- | --- | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar- Kotelly Judge Leon

311: identification of sponsors | Judge Henderson | Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon | ---

318: prohibition of donations by minors | --- | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar- Kotelly Judge Leon | ---

504: disclosure of broadcasting records | --- | Judge Henderson Judge Kollar-Kotelly Judge Leon | ---


It is necessary to canvass the history of federal campaign finance regulation in order to provide the appropriate context for understanding the structure and practices of federal campaign finance that Congress confronted when it enacted BCRA. See United States v. UAW-CIO, 352 U.S. 567, 570 (1957) (" UAW ") ("Appreciation of the circumstances that begot this statute is necessary for its understanding, and understanding of it is necessary for adjudication of the legal problems before us."). Following this overview, the Court will move to a discussion of the legislation enacted by Congress to resolve the perceived shortcomings of the pre-BCRA campaign finance structure and a procedural history of the litigation in this case.

A. The Framework of Federal Campaign Finance Regulation

One might be tempted to agree with Plaintiffs' assertion that the history of federal campaign finance regulation is "relatively short," McConnell Br. at 9, if one were comparing it to the history of Western civilization. In the judgment of Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, however, the history of federal campaign finance regulation, having its origins in the Administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, is a long-standing and recurring problem that has challenged our government for nearly half of the life of our Republic.

At the close of the nineteenth century, the concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of a "small portion of the population" began to threaten the stability and integrity of the political system. UAW, 352 U.S. at 570 (quoting 2 Morrison and Commager, The Growth of the American Republic at 355 (4th ed. 1950)). At the time, the widely accepted view was that "aggregated capital unduly influenced politics, an influence not stopping short of corruption." Id. To that end, many states began experimenting with disclosure laws requiring candidates and their political committees to make public the sources and amounts of contributions to their campaigns and the amounts of their campaign expenditures. Id. at 570-571. These laws proved to be largely futile. Id. at 571.

Concern with both the size and source of campaign funds relating to the 1904 presidential campaign "crystallized popular sentiment for federal action to purge national politics of what was conceived to be the pernicious influence of `big money' campaign contributions." Id. at 571-72. President Roosevelt's presidential messages to Congress in both 1905 and 1906, strongly encouraged Congress to enact a law prohibiting political contributions by corporations. 40 Cong. Rec. 96 (1905); 41 Cong. Rec. 22 (1906). In response to these concerns, Congress enacted the Tillman Act, Ch. 420, 34 Stat. 864, which prohibited corporations from making any contribution in connection with any election for federal office and which represented "the first concrete manifestation of a continuing congressional concern for elections free from the power of money." UAW, 352 U.S. at 575 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The Tillman Act demarcates the beginning of the "modern era" of federal campaign finance regulation and is the predecessor of the prohibition on corporate and labor union contributions and expenditures in connection with any federal election from their general treasuries that appears in the Federal Election Campaign Act ("FECA"). Buckley v. Valeo, 519 F.2d 821, 904 (D.C. Cir. 1975), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).*fn2 The "underlying philosophy" of the Tillman Act was "to sustain the active, alert responsibility of the individual citizen in a democracy for the wise conduct of government." UAW, 352 U.S. at 575.

In 1909, Congress endeavored to broaden the Tillman Act by including within the Act's scope, state legislative races and in-kind contributions. See id. While this effort ended in failure, in 1910, Congress "translated popular demand for further curbs upon the political power of wealth into a publicity law that required committees operating to influence the results of congressional elections in two or more States to report all contributions and disbursements and to identify contributors and recipients of substantial sums." Id. (citing Act of June 25, 1910, ch. 392, §§ 5-6, 36 Stat. 822, 823) (disclosure required of all transactions greater than $100). The 1910 law further directed the reporting of expenditures exceeding $50, made independently of a political committee for the purpose of influencing congressional elections in more than one State. Act of June 25, 1910, ch. 392, §§ 7, 36 Stat. 824. In 1911, Congress further amended the 1910 Act, and for the first time, included overall expenditure ceilings on campaigns for the House ($5,000) and for the Senate ($10,000). Buckley, 519 F.2d at 904-905 (citing Act of Aug. 19, 1911, ch. 33, § 2, 37 Stat. 26). Additionally, the 1911 provisions required all candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives to make detailed reports with respect to their nominating and election campaigns. UAW, 352 U.S. at 576. Hence, candidate disclosures included primary, convention, and other pre-nomination periods. Buckley, 519 F.2d at 905. The 1911 law also prohibited candidates from promising employment for the purpose of securing an individual's support. UAW, 352 U.S. at 576 (citing 37 Stat. 25). In 1918, Congress again amended the law and added criminal penalties for offering anything of value to influence voting. Id. (citing Act of Oct. 16, 1918, ch. 187, 40 Stat. 1013).

In the only instance of a criminal prosecution under the Act, Truman Newberry was convicted in Michigan of violating the expenditure ceiling in his 1918 primary campaign for the United States Senate. Newberry's conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1921. The Court invalidated the law insofar as it extended to Senate primary elections. Newberry v. United States, 256 U.S. 232, 258 (1921) ("We cannot conclude that authority to control party primaries or conventions for designating candidates was bestowed on Congress by the grant of power to regulate the manner of holding elections."). Four Justices of the Court held that primaries were intra-party affairs not amenable to congressional regulation under the Elections Clause. Id. Justice Joseph McKenna, who provided the crucial fifth vote for judgment, limited the reach of the decision to the facts by concluding that the statute under consideration was enacted prior to the Seventeenth Amendment and, therefore, left open the question of whether that Amendment gave Congress authority to regulate Senate primary elections. Id.

In 1925, in the wake of Newberry, Congress passed the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, ch. 368, tit. III, 43 Stat. 1070, which was a comprehensive amalgamation of the surviving provisions of the existing campaign finance laws. UAW, 325 U.S. at 576. The Federal Corrupt Practices Act strengthened the Tillman Act by broadening the definition of contribution, extending the ban on corporate contributions to Delegates and Resident Commissioners that were elected to Congress, and punishing the recipient of any illegal contribution in addition to the contributor. Id. at 577. The law also generally broadened disclosure provisions. Buckley, 519 F.2d at 905.

The Supreme Court upheld the Federal Corrupt Practices Act in the Burroughs case of 1934:

The power of Congress to protect the election of President and Vice President from corruption being clear, the choice of means to that end presents a question primarily addressed to the judgment of Congress. If it can be seen that the means adopted are really calculated to attain the end, the degree of their necessity, the extent to which they conduce to the end, the closeness of the relationship between the means adopted, and the end to be attained, are matters for congressional determination alone. Congress reached the conclusion that public disclosure of political contributions, together with the names of contributors and other details, would tend to prevent the corrupt use of money to affect elections. The verity of this conclusion reasonably cannot be denied. When to this is added the requirement contained in section 244, that the treasurer's statement shall include full particulars in respect of expenditures, it seems plain that the statute as a whole is calculated to discourage the making and use of contributions for purposes of corruption. Burroughs v. United States, 290 U.S. 534, 547-48 (1934) (internal citation omitted). As is obvious from this language, the Burroughs opinion provided Congress with broad discretion to regulate federal elections including the financing of campaigns.

The next instance of congressional action in the area of campaign finance was in 1940 when Congress amended the Hatch Act, a law which placed restrictions on the political activities of the civil service, by making it unlawful for any political committee to receive contributions totaling more than $3,000,000 or to make expenditures of more than that amount in any calendar year. UAW, 352 U.S. at 577 (citing Act of July 19, 1940, ch. 640, 54 Stat. 767). The Hatch Act amendments also limited gifts to candidates or political committees to $5,000 in any calendar year. Buckley, 519 F.2d at 905 (citing Act of July 19, 1940, ch. 640, 54 Stat. 767).

One year later, the Supreme Court again returned to the question it had squarely addressed in Newberry: namely whether congressional power under the Elections Clause extended to the pre-election period. United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299 (1941). This time, the Court upheld the congressional enactment holding that "the authority of Congress, given by [Article I, section 4], includes the authority to regulate primary elections when, as in this case, they are a step in the exercise by the people of their choice of representatives in Congress." Id. at 317. The case involved a Louisiana Democratic primary for the House of Representatives, which history showed was the determinant of who would win the general election. Id. at 314. The Supreme Court in Classic disregarded Newberry because only four Justices in Newberry had adopted the view that the Elections Clause forbade congressional regulation of primary elections. Consequently, as the issue had never "been prejudged by any decision of [the Supreme] Court," Classic overruled the Newberry plurality. Id. at 317; see also id. at 325 n.8 ("No conclusion is to be drawn from the failure of the Hatch Act, to enlarge § 19 by provisions specifically applicable to primaries. Its failure to deal with the subject seems to be attributable to constitutional doubts, stimulated by Newberry v. United States, which are here resolved.") (internal citations omitted). Under Classic, Congress was given authority to impose criminal penalties for activities of state officials conducting a primary election for federal candidates under the auspices of state law. See id. at 307.

Following the rise of organized labor during World War II, in 1943, Congress passed the Smith-Connally Act which included a section that extended the Federal Corrupt Practices Act to organized labor. UAW, 352 U.S. at 578 (citing War Labor Disputes Act (Smith-Connally Act), ch. 144, § 9, 57 Stat. 163, 167) ("Wartime strikes gave rise to fears of the new concentration of power represented by the gains of trade unionism. And so the belief grew that, just as the great corporations had made huge political contributions to influence governmental action or inaction, whether consciously or unconsciously, the powerful unions were pursuing a similar course, and with the same untoward consequences for the democratic process."). Congressman Gerald Landis, the author of this provision in the Smith-Connally Act observed that "[t]he public was aroused by many rumors of huge war chests being maintained by labor unions, of enormous fees and dues being extorted from war workers, of political contributions to parties and candidates which later were held as clubs over the head of high Federal officials." Id. at 579 (quoting Hearings before a Subcommittee of the House Committee on Labor on H.R. 804 and H.R. 1483, 78th Cong., 1st Sess. 1, 2, 4).

Despite the provision in the Smith-Connally Act tightening the reins on political activity of labor unions, Congress was prompted to investigate "enormous" financial outlays by some unions in connection with the 1944 national elections. Id. The Senate's Special Committee on Campaign Expenditures investigated and concluded that while there was "`no clear-cut violation of the Corrupt Practices Act,'" id. at 580 (quoting S. Rep. No. 101, 79th Cong., 1st Sess. 23), the law was being evaded by large scale spending by labor unions on expenditures (as opposed to contributions), which were not explicitly prohibited by the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, id.*fn3 Congress, it appears, considered a prohibition on contributions to be equally applicable to expenditures. Id. at 582 ("`The committee is firmly convinced, after a thorough study of the provisions of the act, the legislative history of the same, and the debates on the said provisions when it was pending before the House, that the act was intended to prohibit such expenditures.'") (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 2739, 79th Cong., 2d Sess. 40). In commenting on how this exception threatened to eviscerate the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, the House Committee studying this problem stated that "`[t]he intent and purpose of the provision of the act prohibiting any corporation or labor organization making any contribution in connection with any election would be wholly defeated if it were assumed that the term `making any contribution' related only to the donating of money directly to a candidate, and excluded the vast expenditures of money in the activities herein shown to be engaged in extensively. Of what avail would a law be to prohibit [directly] contributing to a candidate and yet permit the expenditure of large sums in his behalf?" Id. at 581 (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 2739, 79th Cong., 2d Sess. 40).

Therefore, in order to prevent further "evasion" and to "plug the existing loophole," Congress "again acted to protect the political process from what it deemed to be the corroding effect of money employed in elections by aggregated power." Id. at 582 (internal quotation and citations omitted). Accordingly, in 1947, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, ch. 120, 61 Stat. 136, which amended the Federal Corrupt Practices Act "to proscribe any `expenditure' as well as `any contribution' [and] to make permanent [its] application to labor organizations" in addition to corporations. Id. at 582-83. The Taft-Hartley Act implemented Classic by applying its provisions to primary elections. Buckley, 519 F.2d at 906.

Following the Taft-Hartley Act, from the late 1940's through the end of the 1950's, Congress sought unsuccessfully to amend the dollar expenditure limits to reflect more "realistic" costs, but no action was taken. Id. In 1960, the Senate passed a bill that strengthened reporting requirements for candidates and political committees, adopted individual contribution limits, rationalized current expenditure limits, and placed ceilings on Presidential campaigns. Id. The bill, however, died for lack of a companion in the House of Representatives. Id. In 1962, President Kennedy's Commission on Campaign Costs recommended "tax incentives and credits for small political contributions, realistic ceilings, and suspension of the equal time provision as to media debates." Id. In 1966, Congress passed a one dollar tax checkoff to provide public funding for Presidential general elections, which was later repealed in 1967. Id.

Late in 1971, Congress reinstituted the tax form checkoff to finance Presidential general elections and, in early 1972, passed the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971, Pub. L. No. 92-255, 86 Stat. 3 ("FECA"), requiring disclosure of all contributions in excess of $100 and disclosure of expenditures by all candidates and political committees spending more than $1000 per year. Id. The 1971 law also expressly provided corporations and unions with the ability to establish and administer separate, segregated funds for the purpose of making political contributions and expenditures. Pipefitters Local Union No. 562 v. United States, 407 U.S. 385, 410 (1972).

Despite passage of FECA, the "infinite ability" to "eviscerate[] statutory limitations on contributions and expenditures," which amounted to "wholesale circumvention" became a source of further congressional concern. Buckley, 519 F.2d at 837. Congress concluded that costs for federal elections had increased at an "`alarming'" rate. Id. (quoting H.R. Rep. No.93-1239, 93d Cong., 2d Sess. 3 (1974), U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 1974, p. 5587). Congress was further troubled by the "interaction" between large-scale campaign expenditures and a reliance "on large contributions from monied and special interests." Id. In Buckley, it was undisputed that "one percent of the people accounted for 90 percent of the dollars contributed to federal candidates, political parties and committees." Id. (citing agreed to Findings of Fact). It was also undisputed that illegal contributions to both parties were made in 1972 by Gulf Oil and by American Milk Producers, Inc., a large dairy cooperative. Id. at 838. Notably, the circuit court in Buckley concluded:

Large contributions are intended to, and do, gain access to the elected official after the campaign for consideration of the contributor's particular concerns. Senator Mathias not only describes this but also the corollary, that the feeling that big contributors gain special treatment produces a reaction that the average American has no significant role in the political process. Id.; see also id. n.32 ("Congress found and the District Court confirmed that such contributions were often made for the purpose of furthering business or private interests by facilitating access to government officials or influencing governmental decisions, and that, conversely, elected officials have tended to afford special treatment to large contributors.") (citations omitted).

Indeed, the lower Buckley court documented the "lavish contributions by groups or individuals with special interests to legislators from both parties." Id. at 840 n.37.

In 1974, in direct response to the 1972 elections which were a "watershed for public confidence in the electoral system," id. at 840, and the "shock of its aftermath," id. at 837, Congress enacted and President Gerald Ford signed the sweeping FECA Amendments of 1974. Id. Broadly speaking, the amendments imposed dollar limitations on contributions by individuals and by political committees to candidates for federal office, to political party committees, and to independent political committees. 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a). The 1974 amendments also imposed limits on expenditures that individuals, candidates, political committees, and political parties could spend to help federal candidates win elections. Moreover, the law treated expenditures that were "coordinated" with a candidate as contributions. 2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(7)(B)(i) ("[E]xpenditures made by any person in cooperation, consultation, or concert, with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, his authorized political committees, or their agents, shall be considered to be a contribution to such candidate."). The amendments also included a variety of recordkeeping and disclosure requirements. See 2 U.S.C. §§ 432-434. The Federal Election Commission was also created by the amendments and tasked with monitoring and enforcing the campaign finance laws. See generally 2 U.S.C. §§ 437c(b)(1), 437d(a), 437g. Finally the law, as amended, provided public funding primarily for qualified presidential candidates and some public funding for nominating conventions of major political parties.

The first day after the FECA amendments went into effect, the law was challenged. Buckley, 519 F.2d at 901. In a lengthy opinion, the UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS for the District of Columbia Circuit found all but one of the provisions of FECA constitutional. Id. at 843-44 (striking down disclosure provision 2 U.S.C. § 437a). In 1976, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the D.C. Circuit's ruling in its decision in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976). Generally speaking, in examining FECA's provisions against the free speech and association provisions of the First Amendment the Supreme Court found constitutional FECA's contribution limitations, Buckley, 424 U.S. at 23-38, and unconstitutional those provisions of FECA that imposed expenditure limitations, id. at 39-59. The contribution-expenditure dichotomy first developed in Buckley was grounded in the Supreme Court's view that "[a] contribution serves as a general expression of support for the candidate and his views, but does not communicate the underlying basis for the support." Id. at 21 (observing that "[t]he quantity of communication by the contributor does not increase perceptibly with the size of his contribution, since the expression rests solely on the undifferentiated, symbolic act of contributing."). Expenditure restrictions, on the other hand, "while neutral as to the ideas expressed, limit political expression at the core of our electoral process and of the First Amendment freedoms." Id. at 39 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

In Buckley, the Supreme Court upheld as well the general disclosure provisions contained in FECA. Id. at 60-84.*fn4 The Supreme Court likewise found constitutional the public funding scheme for presidential candidates. Id. at 85-109. Finally, the Supreme Court struck down the structure of the FEC as it was constituted under FECA in violation of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. Id. at 109-143.

Hence, in the aftermath of Buckley, it was FECA's contribution restrictions that remained intact, while its expenditure provisions were vitiated.*fn5 Under FECA, as it emerged from Buckley, no "person"*fn6 was permitted to contribute in excess of $1,000 to a candidate for federal office, 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(1)(A); no person could contribute to the political committees established and maintained by a national political party, in any calendar year which, in the aggregate, exceed $20,000, 2 U.S.C. § 441a(1)(B); and no person could contribute to any other political committee in any calendar year which, in the aggregate, exceed $5,000, 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(1)(C).*fn7 In addition, no multicandidate political committee could contribute in excess of $5,000 to a candidate for federal office, 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(2)(A); no multicandidate political committee could contribute in excess of $15,000 to the political committees established and maintained by a national political party, 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(2)(B); and finally, no multicandidate political committee could contribute to any other political committee in any calendar year which, in the aggregate, exceeded $5,000, 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(2)(C). In order to "prevent evasion" of these limitations Buckley upheld the Act's $25,000 limitation on total contributions during any calendar year. Buckley, 424 U.S. at 38. As a result, under 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(3), no individual was permitted to make contributions aggregating more than $25,000 in any calendar year. 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(3).*fn8

In addition, under 2 U.S.C. § 441b, corporations and labor unions are prohibited from using their general treasury funds to "make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election to any political office." 2 U.S.C. § 441b(a). In sum, the Supreme Court found that:

The overall effect of the Act's contribution ceilings is merely to require candidates and political committees to raise funds from a greater number of persons and to compel people who would otherwise contribute amounts greater than the statutory limits to expend such funds on direct political expression, rather than to reduce the total amount of money potentially available to promote political expression. Buckley, 424 U.S. at 21-22.

Indeed, what emerged from Buckley was a tightly focused regime whereby contributions (and coordinated expenditures) to candidates and political parties and committees were limited or even banned (in the case of corporate and union treasury funds) and independent political advocacy was left unimpeded.

Contribution is defined in FECA as including, "any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office." 2 U.S.C. § 431(8)(A)(i).

Since the adoption of FECA, it is clear that the Commission has struggled with interpreting the phrase "for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office." 2 U.S.C. § 431(8)(A)(i). In 1975, the FEC examined the case of a local party committee that had established separate accounts for federal funds and for corporate contributions which were permitted under state law, but which were prohibited by federal law for use in connection with federal elections. In Advisory Opinion 1975-21, the Commission determined that the appropriate course was to have the local party allocate both its administrative expenses and its voter registration drives between the two accounts, given that these expenses had an impact on both state and federal elections. FEC Advisory Op. 1975-21 (allocation based on the ratio of "the total amount which the [local party] directly contributes to and expends on behalf of Federal candidates, to... the total of all direct contributions to and expenditures on behalf of all candidates–Federal, State, and local"). The FEC slightly reversed course, in Informational Letter 1976-72, where it determined that voter registration efforts could not be paid for from an account containing funds raised from corporate and union general treasuries. FEC Informational Letter 1976-72 ("Thus, even though the Illinois law apparently permits corporate contributions for State elections, corporate/union treasury funds may not be used to fund any portion of a registration or get-out-the-vote drive conducted by a political party.").

However, in its 1977 rulemakings implementing FECA, the Commission permitted any political committee to make a choice between creating a separate federal account for its federal election activities, or to establish a single account containing only funds subject to the federal contribution limits to finance all of its activities with respect to both state and federal elections. 11 C.F.R. § 102.6(a)(2) (1977). To the extent that segregated accounts were created, the committees were required to "allocate administrative expenses on a reasonable basis between their Federal and non-Federal accounts in proportion to the amount of funds expended on Federal and non-Federal elections, or on another reasonable basis." 11 C.F.R. § 106.1(e) (1977) (emphasis added). The following year, the Commission essentially reversed its 1976 advisory opinion and in Advisory Opinion 1978-10, determined that "the costs of [voter] registration and get-out-the-vote drives" by a state party committee "should be allocated between" federal and nonfederal accounts "in the same manner as other general party expenditures" under the Commission's 1977 regulations. FEC Advisory Op. 1978-10. In Advisory Opinion 1979-17, the Commission extended the conclusions reached in Advisory Opinion 1978-10 regarding separate accounts to the national party committees. FEC Advisory Op. 1979-17 ("[Regulations] thus would permit the RNC to establish and administer separate, segregated bank accounts through an auxiliary organization of the national party which accounts could be used for the deposit and disbursement of funds designated specifically and exclusively to finance national party activity limited to influencing the nomination or election of candidates for public office other than elective `Federal office.'") (citation omitted).

Accordingly, by the middle of 1979, the FEC permitted national and state party committees to solicit and accept donations outside of FECA's source and amount limitations ("nonfederal money")*fn9 provided that these monies were placed in separate accounts from the federal funds. In other words, political committees were permitted to establish two sets of accounts–one for federally-regulated money (federal accounts) and one for non-federally regulated money (nonfederal accounts).*fn10

Essentially, the FEC's opinions and rulemakings permitted state and national party committees to pay for the nonfederal portion of their administrative costs and voter registration and turnout programs with monies raised under relevant state laws (not FECA), even if those state laws were in direct contravention of FECA, such as permitting contributions from corporate and labor union general treasury funds. As a result, national and state parties began to raise so-called "soft money," which described these nonfederal funds, not subject to FECA limits and restrictions, that were used to pay for these administrative and generic voter drive expenses.

With these developments, nonfederal funds became an increasingly important means of party financing. During the 1980 election, the RNC spent approximately $15 million in nonfederal funds and the DNC spent roughly $4 million, constituting 9% of the national parties total spending. Mann Expert Rep. at 12.*fn11 In 1984, the national parties spent collectively an estimated $21.6 million in nonfederal money, which accounted for 5% of their total spending. Id. By 1988, national party nonfederal money had increased to an approximate $45 million, or 11% of national party spending. Id.

In 1990, the FEC promulgated regulations to provide for some consistency in the methods used to determine the relative portions of federal and nonfederal money to be used in financing these generic party activities. Prior to 1990, the regulations specified that the allocation rate between nonfederal and federal accounts was to be done on a "reasonable basis." 11 C.F.R. § 106.1(e) (1977). The regulations promulgated by the Commission were designed to give certainty to this subjective standard and were in response to a district court's decision which held that the allocation rules required specific guidance from the Commission. Common Cause v. FEC, 692 F. Supp. 1391, 1396 (D.D.C. 1987) ("Indeed, it is possible that the Commission may conclude that no method of allocation will effectuate the Congressional goal that all monies spent by state political committees on those activities permitted in the 1979 amendments be `hard money' under the FECA. That is an issue for the Commission to resolve on remand.").*fn12 Under the new regulations, national party committees (other than Senate and House national party committees) were required to allocate at least 65% of their administrative and generic voter drive expenses*fn13 to their federal accounts in presidential election years and 60% in non-presidential election years. 11 C.F.R. §§ 106.5(b)(2)(i), (ii) (1991). Senate and House committees were to allocate these expenses on the basis of the ratio of federal expenditures to total federal and nonfederal disbursements made by the committee during the two-year federal election cycle. 11 C.F.R. § 106.5(c)(i). For state and local parties, the allocation between the federal and nonfederal accounts for these expenses were determined by the proportion of federal offices to all offices on a state's general election ballot. 11 C.F.R. § 106.5(d) (1991). Generally, the state parties' allocation rate was substantially lower than the national party allocation rate. Mann Expert Rep. at 14. The new rules also mandated that the national party committees disclose the details of their nonfederal accounts. 11 C.F.R. §§ 104.8(e), (f) (1991) (requiring national parties to report for nonfederal and building fund accounts the donating individual's name, mailing address, occupation or type of business, and the date of receipt and amount of any such donation). State parties, however, were exempted from these disclosure requirements. 11 C.F.R. § 104.9(a) (1991) (reporting committees required to disclose information pertaining to "the committee's federal account(s) only"). The Commission's regulations, therefore, provided the national parties with an incentive to channel these expenditures through state party committees, since this approach generally permitted more nonfederal dollars to be spent than if a national party spent the money without disclosing the sources of the funds.

In 1992, spending on nonfederal money by the national parties reached $80 million, or 16% of the national parties total spending. Mann Expert Rep. at 15 (citing to official figures from the FEC). Of that total amount, the national parties contributed only $2 million directly to state and local candidates. Mann Expert Rep. at 16. In addition, the two national parties transferred over $15 million to state party committees–two thirds of which was transferred to presidential election battleground states. Id. Along these lines, the national parties expended $14 million in nonfederal funds for "generic" party advertising, consisting predominantly of television advertisements that did not mention candidates names, but urged viewers to simply vote for a particular party or stressed themes from the presidential campaigns. Id. Although the Commission had only approved the use of nonfederal funds by the national parties "for the exclusive and limited purpose of influencing the nomination or election of candidates for nonfederal office," by 1992, with the new allocation rules firmly in place, national parties were using nonfederal money to impact federal elections as permitted by the Commission. FEC Advisory Op. 1979-17.

With the 1996 election cycle, the national parties' total nonfederal funds spending reached $272 million, which was 30% of the national party committees' total spending. Mann Expert Rep. at 21. Starting in the Fall of 1995 and continuing through 1996, Democratic party committees used soft money to fund advertisements that either promoted President William J. Clinton by name or criticized his opponent by name, while avoiding words that expressly advocated either candidate's election or defeat.*fn14 Id. at 18. In May of 1996, the Republican National Committee announced its plans to spend $20 million on an "issue advocacy" campaign. Id. at 20.

Although many of the advertisements featured the presidential candidates, none of the costs of these advertisements were charged as coordinated expenditures on behalf of the candidate's campaign, which would have subjected the expenditure to FECA's contribution limits. Instead, the parties paid the full cost, with a mix of federal and nonfederal funds as permitted by FEC allocation rules.*fn15 Often the advertisements were paid for by state party committees, where the allocation rules permitted greater spending of soft money. Mann Expert Report at 22 (noting over $115 million was transferred from the national parties to the state party committees). In fact, state party nonfederal funds for political communication/advertising went from $2 million in 1992 to $65 million in 1996. Id. at 22; see also La Raja Expert Report at 18. A similar strategy was also used by the parties to support their candidates for congressional office. Mann Expert Report at 20. Following the 1996 election, the FEC began a series of investigations over the parties' 1996 election practices. Statement of Reasons of Commissioner Scott E. Thomas for MURs 4553 and 4671, 4713, 4407 and 4544 at 2-5 [DEV 51]. In 2000, the FEC deadlocked over whether there was reason to believe that the national parties advertising program constituted an excessive in-kind contribution to the presidential campaigns. Id. at 5.

The Senate and House also conducted extensive investigations into the 1996 federal elections. Both the majority and minority reports in the Senate investigation concluded that permitting nonfederal donations to political parties eviscerated FECA's longstanding ability to prevent corporate and labor union treasury funds from influencing federal elections. Investigation of Illegal or Improper Activities in Connection with 1996 Federal Election Campaigns, S. Rep. No. 105-167 (6 vols.), Mar. 10, 1998, ("Thompson Committee Report"); id. at 4468 (majority report) ("[S]oft money spending by political party committees eviscerates the ability of the FECA to limit the funds contributed by individuals, corporations, or unions for the defeat or benefit of specific candidates."); id. at 4572 (minority report) ("The soft money loophole undermines the campaign finance laws by enabling wealthy private interests to channel enormous amounts of money into political campaigns."). In the House, the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight conducted a wide ranging investigation, which culminated in public hearings during 1997, into, inter alia, campaign fundraising by political parties from foreign sources. See Campaign Finance Investigation: Hearings Before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, 105th Cong. 6 (October 8, 1997) (statement of Chairman Dan Burton) ("This Committee's hearings will cover many subjects.... Our initial focus has been how political parties took or raised contributions from foreign sources. I am gravely concerned about foreign governments, foreign companies or foreign nationals trying to influence our electoral processes."); Conduit Payments to the Democratic National Committee: Hearings Before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, 105th Cong. 6 (October 9, 1997) (statement of Chairman Dan Burton) ("Today, marks the first day of hearings into illegal foreign fundraising and other violations of law during recent campaigns.").

Nevertheless, without any congressional action, nonfederal funds emerged as a significant source of party resources. With these strategies firmly in place, the national parties spent $221 million of nonfederal money on the 1998 midterm elections, or 34% of their total spending, which was more than double the amount of nonfederal funds spent during the previous midterm election. Mann Expert Report at 23. With the 2000 elections, the national parties spent $498 million worth of nonfederal funds, which was 42% of their total spending. Id. at 24.

The use of nonfederal funds by the political parties was paralleled to some degree by a similar development in the rise of issue advocacy by corporations and labor unions. Aside from the political parties making advertisements that supported their candidates or attacked the opponent without using words of direct "express advocacy," unions and corporations began to mount "issue advocacy" campaigns, particularly beginning with the 1996 election, that were paid directly from their general treasuries. For example, in 1996 the AFL-CIO ran the following advertisement from September 26 to October 9 in the district of House Republican incumbent Steve Stockman:

[Narrator] What's important to America's families? [Middle-aged man] "My pension is very important because it will provide a significant amount of my income when I retire." [Narrator] And where do the candidates stand ? Congressman Steve Stockman voted to make it easier for corporations to raid employee pension funds. Nick Lampson opposes that plan. He supports new safeguards to protect employee pension funds. When it comes to your pension, there is a difference. Call and find out. AFL-CIO 000593; [DEV 124] (emphasis added); see also AFL-CIO 000602.

Advertisements such as the above illustration were permitted by the Supreme Court's ruling in FEC v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Inc. In that case, the Supreme Court found that the prohibition on corporate and union treasury spending on expenditures found in 2 U.S.C. § 441(b) needed to be narrowly construed to only apply to express advocacy. FEC v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Inc., 479 U.S. 238, 249 (1986) (" MCFL ") ("We therefore hold that an expenditure must constitute `express advocacy' in order to be subject to the prohibition of § 441b."). As a result, corporations and labor unions were free to use general treasury funds to finance issue advocacy campaigns. It does not appear that prior to 1996, the practice of using issue advertising to influence federal elections was a widespread practice.

In addition, the issue advocacy campaigns by corporations and labor unions were free from the disclosure provisions upheld in Buckley because they were considered outside of FECA's regulatory purview. This lack of disclosure permitted various interest groups to conceal the true identity of the source behind the advertisement. Thus, following both the 1996 and 2000 elections, corporations and unions used their general treasury funds to run advertisements apparently aimed at influencing federal elections and avoiding FECA's longstanding disclosure provisions.

With regard to both political party spending of nonfederal funds and political party, corporate, and labor union issue advocacy, there does not appear to be any dispute among the litigants to the fact that much of this behavior was not regulated or was permitted by the FEC. Rather, the dispute between the parties centers around the effect of engaging in these tactics, whether the measures needed addressing, and how Congress ultimately remedied what it perceived to be a problem. It is the congressional response to which the Court now turns.

B. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002

In response to what it perceived were burgeoning problems with federal campaign finance laws, Congress began to consider reform legislation over six years ago, during the 105th Congress.*fn16 The overhaul of our Nation's existing campaign finance laws – culminating with the enactment of BCRA – would consume the attention of three separate Congresses*fn17 and require navigation through atypical parliamentary procedures.

During the 105th Congress, the House of Representatives considered House Bill 2183, the Bipartisan Campaign Integrity Act of 1997, offered by Representative Asa Hutchinson. The bill was first considered on May 22, 1998.*fn18 144 Cong. Rec. H3774 (daily ed. May 22, 1998). On August 3, 1998, during consideration of Representative Hutchinson's bill on the House floor, the Committee of the Whole*fn19 adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Representatives Christopher Shays and Martin Meehan.*fn20 144 Cong. Rec. H6947 (daily ed. Aug. 3, 1998). Finally, on August 6, 1998, the House passed House Bill 2183, as amended (the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 1998), by a vote of 252-179. 144 Cong. Rec. H7330 (daily ed. Aug. 6, 1998). The bill was referred to the Senate on September 9, 1998, 144 Cong. Rec. S10,114 (daily ed. Sept. 9, 1998), but was not considered prior to adjournment, sine die, on October 21, 1998. As a result, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 1998 died in the Senate during the 105th Congress.

On January 19, 1999, during the 106th Congress, Representative Shays introduced House Bill 417, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 1999, which attracted the support of 96 original cosponsors. See H.R. 417, 106th Cong. (1999). Upon introduction, the bill was referred to the Committee on House Administration, where it received an unfavorable report. H.R. Rept. 106-297, pt. 1, at 17 (1999). Nonetheless, the proponents of campaign finance reform secured floor consideration through the threat of a discharge petition. See David Mark, Campaign Finance Discharge Petition Off to Fast Start, Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor (July 31, 2001). When the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 1999 reached the floor for a vote, it passed comfortably, by a vote of 252-177. 145 Cong. Rec. H8286 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 1999). On September 16, 1999, the Senate received House Bill 417, and on September 29, the Senate referred it to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, 145 Cong. Rec. S11,638 (daily ed. Sept. 29, 1999), where it would remain for the balance of the 106th Congress. The Senate responded to the House's action by considering Senate Bill 1593, also titled the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 1999, which was introduced on September 16, 1999, by Senators McCain and Feingold, shortly after House Bill 417 secured passage. S. 1593; see also 145 Cong. Rec. H8286 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 1999). The Senate, however, failed to invoke cloture,*fn21 thereby failing to limit debate on two separate amendments to Senate Bill 1593, and the bill floundered. 145 Cong. Rec. S12,800 (daily ed. Oct. 19, 1999); id. at S12,803. As a result, for the second time in as many years, the campaign finance reform bill died in the Senate.

Circumstances changed during the 107th Congress; this time it was the Senate that acted first and passed campaign finance reform legislation, Senate Bill 27,*fn22 by a vote of 59-41. 147 Cong. Rec. S3258 (daily ed. Apr. 2, 2001). The bill was then transferred to the House of Representatives.

Representatives Shays and Meehan had already introduced House Bill 380, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001, when the Senate secured passage of Senate Bill 27. See H.R. 380, 106th Cong. (1999). On June 28, 2001, in an effort to make their legislation conform with the Senate-passed bill,*fn23 Representatives Shays and Meehan introduced new legislation, House Bill 2356, also titled the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001. The House Leadership, which, through the Speaker of the House, controls access to the House floor,*fn24 agreed to consider House Bill 2356. However, in a last minute effort to tweak the legislation, Representatives Shays and Meehan proposed several amendments. John Cochran, Not Victory but Vitriol for Campaign Finance Bill, Congressional Quarterly Weekly (July 13, 2001). The package of amendments offered by Shays and Meehan reflected the need for additional changes to ensure that House Bill 2356, if passed by the House, would be considered without amendment by the Senate, thereby eliminating the need for a conference committee.*fn25 See id. In addition, Shays and Meehan requested that the Rules Committee write a rule for consideration and debate on the House floor that would treat this package as a single amendment, which could be considered in one vote. Id. The Rules Committee refused, drafting a resolution for consideration and debate that would treat each change, fourteen in total, as separate amendments. Id.; see also H.R. Res. 188, 107th Cong. (2001). Shays, Meehan, and their supporters opposed the rule, claiming that the House Leadership used "technicalities" to defeat the bill, and called upon their colleagues to reject the rule. 147 Cong. Rec. H3984 (daily ed. July 12, 2001) (statement of Rep. Meehan). The House voted and the rule failed.*fn26 In the aftermath, however, the bill's proponents and the House Leadership were unable to come to an agreement over a compromise rule for the consideration and debate of House Bill 2356, John Cochran, Not Victory but Vitriol for Campaign Finance Bill, Congressional Quarterly Weekly (July 13, 2001), and the bill was pulled from the House Floor.

On July 30, 2001, Representative Jim Turner filed a discharge petition to bring House Bill 2356 to the floor for consideration. H.R. Discharge Pet. No. 3, available at As congressional procedure scholar Walter J. Oleszek noted:

[t]he discharge procedure, adopted in 1910, provides that if a bill has been before a standing committee for thirty legislative... days, any member can introduce a motion to relieve the panel of the measure.... If the requisite number of members (218) sign the petition, this procedure permits a majority of the House to bring a bill to the floor even if it is opposed by the committee that has jurisdiction over the measure, the majority leadership, and the Rules Committee. Walter J. Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process 138 (5th ed., CQ Press 2001).

While the discharge petition permits a majority of the House to circumvent a stacked committee or the House Leadership, it has not been a highly effective tool for passing legislation, let alone securing its enactment into law. As Walter Oleszek went on to observe:

Few measures are discharged from committee. From 1931 through 1994 (approximately the period during which the modern version of the rule has been in effect), more than five hundred discharge petitions were filed, but only forty-six attracted the required signatures and only nineteen bills were discharged and passed by the House. Of those, only two became law: the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Federal Pay Raise Act of 1960. Id. at 139.

Despite this history of failure, on January 24, 2002, Representative Turner's petition attracted 218 signatures, the requisite number to achieve discharge. See H.R. Discharge Pet. No. 3. Consequently, the bill was sent to the floor and scheduled for debate. See H.R. Res. 203, 107th Cong. (2001); H.R. Res. 344, 107th Cong. (2002); 148 Cong. Rec. H266 (daily ed. Feb. 12, 2002). On February 13, 2002, the House began to consider House Bill 2356. During consideration, the House rejected three substitute amendments – one offered by House Majority Leader Dick Armey*fn27 and two offered by House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Ney*fn28 – before agreeing to Representative Shays' substitute amendment by a vote of 240-191, 148 Cong. Rec. H411 (daily ed. Feb. 13, 2002). Like the earlier amendment package, the Shays Substitute was designed to avoid a conference committee, where opponents would have another opportunity to scuttle the bill,*fn29 by making changes likely to garner the support of a majority of the Senate without forcing them to alter the text of the House-passed bill. See 148 Congr. Rec. H402 (daily ed. Feb. 13, 2002) (statement of Rep. Shays) (observing that the Shays substitute amendment was drafted after having "met with Senators from both sides of the aisle to learn what was needed in that bill in order to pass [BCRA]").*fn30 After considering a series of amendments to the newly amended, underlining bill (House Bill 2356), the House passed BCRA by a vote of 240-189. 148 Cong. Rec. H465-66 (daily ed. Feb. 13, 2002). On March 20, 2002, the Senate followed suit, passing BCRA by a vote of 60-40. 148 Cong. Rec. S2160-61 (daily ed. Mar. 20, 2002).

On March 27, 2002, President George W. Bush signed BCRA into law; the first major overhaul of the Federal Election Campaign Act since the 1974 Amendments and their revision following Buckley. Broadly speaking, Title I attempts to regulate political party use of nonfederal funds, while Title II seeks to prohibit labor union and corporate treasury funds from being used to run issue advertisements that have an ostensible federal electioneering purpose.

C. Procedural History of the Litigation of this Case

On the morning of March 27, 2002, President Bush signed BCRA into law. Within hours, Senator McConnell and the National Rifle Association ("NRA") filed complaints challenging the constitutionality of various provisions in BCRA. On April 16, 2003, pursuant to Congress's directive, BCRA § 403(a)(1),*fn31 those cases were assigned to a district court of three judges consisting of District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, District Court Judge Richard J. Leon, and Circuit Court Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson. A week later, on April 23, 2002, the three-judge court held a status conference, in which it heard the parties' proposals on consolidation, intervention, discovery, and the filing of motions.

The primary issue confronting the Court at the status conference was the scope of discovery required to develop a satisfactory factual record. The defendants, in their pleading, argued that "wide-raging discovery" was necessary "even in the context of a facial challenge,... [in order to] look to the record of the case for evidence substantiating the governmental interests asserted in support of legislation said to violate the First Amendment." Def.'s Report in Response to the Court's Order of April 16, 2002, at 9 (quoting Turner Broadcasting Sys. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622, 664-68 (1994); Colorado Republican Fed. Campaign Comm. v. FEC ("Colorado I"), 518 U.S. 604, 618-19 (1996) (plurality opinion)).*fn32 Mindful that the Supreme Court remanded a First Amendment case to a three-judge district court in Turner Broadcasting to "permit the parties to develop a more thorough factual record," 512 U.S. at 668,*fn33 this Court agreed with the defendants that extensive discovery was necessary*fn34 to review the evidentiary grounds for BCRA, and in part, to avoid the "disaster" of remand. Status Conference Tr., April 23, 2002, at 51 (statement of James Gilligan).*fn35 Notwithstanding Congress's directive "to expedite to the greatest possible extent the disposition of the action and appeal," BCRA § 403(a)(4), it was also clear from the legislative record that Congress did not want this Court to "compromise informed and deliberate judicial decisionmaking in the process." See Def.'s Report in Response to the Court's Order of April 16, 2002, at 8. Indeed, Senator Feingold, one of the principal Senate sponsors, explained during the Senate debate:

Finally, and most importantly, although [Section 403(a)(4)] provides for the expedition of these cases to the greatest possible extent, we do not intend to suggest that the courts should not take the time necessary to develop the factual record... This case will be one of the most important that the Court has heard in decades, with ramifications for the future of our political system for years to come. By expediting the case, we in no way want to rush the Court into making its decision without the benefit of a full and adequate record. 147 Cong. Rec. S3189 (March 30, 2001) (statement of Sen. Feingold); see also id. at S3189-90 (statement of Sen. Dodd) (supporting the expedition provision, but stating "I do not want to suggest that the Court should not take adequate time to review any such challenge").*fn36

Accordingly, the next day, the Court issued a unanimous order outlining a discovery and briefing schedule, which allowed for over five months of discovery and almost an additional month for cross-examination of fact and expert witnesses; set May 7, 2002, as a deadline by which all other actions would be filed; and decided that briefing was to take place between November 4 and November 25, 2002. In a highly unusual accommodation to Congress's request for expedition, the Court set oral arguments to begin on December 4, 2002, just over a week after the parties submitted their final briefs. See Scheduling Order of April 24, 2002. By May 10, 2002, 101 parties were involved in the consolidated action, with the eighty-four plaintiffs challenging twenty-three provisions of BCRA.*fn37 After the Court dismissed seven plaintiffs from the suit without prejudice, see infra note 55, seventy-seven plaintiffs and seventeen defendants remained. See id. (listing all plaintiffs and defendants).

During the discovery process, the parties filed a total of twenty-three motions with the Court, including motions to compel responses to document requests, motions to compel responses to interrogatories, and motions for protective orders. At a hearing on July 25, 2002, the Court heard arguments as to many of the discovery disputes. Thereafter, the Court resolved the disputes with memorandum opinions. See, e.g., Order Denying Federal Election Commission's Motion for Entry of Protective Orders, August 12, 2002; Order Denying in Part and Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motions to Compel Interrogatory Responses, August 15, 2002; Order Denying Adams Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Intervenors to Respond to Interrogatories and Produce Documents, September 10, 2002.

On October 7, 2002, the Court ordered the parties to meet and confer and to deliver a proposed format on the briefing and proposed findings of fact. See Order, October 7, 2002. In their joint response, the plaintiffs (absent the Adams and Thompson plaintiffs) requested 751 pages, the Adams Plaintiffs requested 115 pages, and the defendants requested 750 pages. See Joint Submission in Response to the Court's Order of October 7, 2002. The Court ordered that the plaintiffs, including the Adams and Paul plaintiffs, submit three rounds of briefs not to exceed 840 pages and that the defendants' briefs submit three rounds of briefs ( i.e., opening, opposition, and reply) not to exceed 820 pages.*fn38 The Court also directed the plaintiffs collectively, and the defendants collectively, to each submit proposed findings of fact of no more than 300 pages. Briefing Order, October 15, 2002; Order, October 19, 2002.

On November 25, 2002, a little over a week before oral arguments were scheduled to begin, the parties filed their last round of briefs, bringing the total briefing to 1,676 pages (not including amicus curiae briefs). A day later, the parties submitted 576 pages of proposed findings of fact. The evidentiary submissions themselves included forty-one boxes (plus thirteen additional binders), which, by a conservative estimation, comprised the testimony and declarations of over 200 fact and expert witnesses and over 100,000 pages*fn39 of material.*fn40 With the record and pleadings before it, the Court commenced oral arguments on December 4, 2002. The Court heard six hours of arguments that day, and three hours of oral arguments the following day, from a total of twenty-four attorneys.*fn41 D. Description of the Specific Provisions in BCRA At Issue in These Lawsuits

The Court briefly next sets forth the provision of the law that are at issue in the litigation.

1. Title I: Reduction of Special Interest Influence

a. The National Party Soft Money Ban: Section 323(a)

The first provision of Title I involves the addition of a new section to FECA, section 323, entitled "Soft Money Of Political Parties." Section 323(a) states that national party committees (including national congressional campaign committees) "may not solicit, receive, or direct to another person a contribution, donation, or transfer of funds or any other thing of value, or spend any funds, that are not subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of this Act." BCRA §101(a); FECA § 323(a)(1); 2 U.S.C. § 441i(a)(1). The law applies to "any... national committee, any officer or agent acting on behalf of such a national committee, and any entity that is directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained, or controlled by such a national ...

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