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For Immediate Release
September 28, 2006
Contact: Kelly Huff
Bob Biersack
Michelle Ryan
George Smaragdis
DISTRICT COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF FEC
 

WASHINGTON – A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has issued a ruling in favor of the Federal Election Commission in The Christian Civic League of Maine, Inc. v. FEC, case Number 06-0614. The Court rejected a challenge to the “electioneering communication” provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) filed by The Christian Civic League of Maine, Inc. (CCL) based on ads it planned to run in June 2006. The Court found that CCL’s claims about its 2006 ads were moot, and that its general claims about running “materially similar” ads in the future were “too speculative and hypothetical to be justiciable.”

The BCRA bars the use of corporate treasury funds to finance certain broadcast ads that clearly identify a federal candidate and are aired 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election. In McConnell v. FEC, the Supreme Court found this provision to be facially constitutional, but later held that “as applied” challenges to the provision may be considered.

CCL had planned to run ads that identified Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins before a June 2006 Senate vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment (S.J. Res. 1). Senator Snowe was a candidate in a primary election scheduled for June 13, 2006. The Court denied CCL’s motion for a preliminary injunction on May 9, 2006, and CCL did not run the ads.

The Court found that CCL’s claims were hypothetical since CCL had no immediate plans to run similar ads in the future. The Court also found that CCL’s claims regarding the planned June 2006 ads were moot given that the Senate vote in question had already occurred and the Court had no power at this point to grant relief. Finally, the Court rejected CCL’s claims that it qualified for the “capable of repetition, yet evading review” exception to the mootness doctrine because its claims constitute an “as-applied” challenge that needs to be defined based on the precise facts at issue.  The Court concluded that the “chances of recurrence of this perfect storm is small,” foreclosing the application of this exception.  Thus, the court dismissed the case.

The decision of the court is available here.

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