COLORADO REP FED CAMPAIGN COMM v. FEC

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
95-489
Petitioner 
Colorado Rep Fed Campaign Comm
Respondent 
FEC
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

Before the Colorado Republican Party selected its 1986 senatorial candidate, its Federal Campaign Committee bought radio advertisements attacking the Democratic Party's likely candidate. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) brought suit charging that the Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee had violated the "Party Expenditure Provision" of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA), which imposes dollar limits upon political party "expenditure[s] in connection with the general election campaign of a [congressional] candidate." The Colorado Party defended itself by claiming that the FECA expenditure limitations violated the First Amendment as applied to its advertisements, and filed a counterclaim seeking to raise a challenge to the Provision as a whole. The District Court held that the Provision did not cover the expenditure at issue. Therefore, the court entered summary judgment for the Colorado Party and it dismissed the counterclaim as moot. The Court of Appeals ruled that the Provision covered this expenditure and satisfied the Constitution. Subsequently, the court ordered judgment for the FEC.

Question 

Do the federal campaign-financing limits on the amount of money political parties may spend on congressional races, as established by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, violate First Amendment rights when applied to expenditures a political party has made independently of any candidate's campaign?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Colorado Rep Fed Campaign Comm, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Federal Election Campaign

Yes. In a plurality decision, Justice Stephen G. Breyer announced the judgment of the Court and authored an opinion, in which the Court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the application of the Party Expenditure Provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to the kind of expenditure at issue here-an expenditure that the political party has made independently, without coordination with any candidate. Justices O'Connor and Souter joined Justice Breyer. Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia, concluded that, on its face, FECA violates the First Amendment when it restricts as a "contribution" a political party's spending "in cooperation, consultation, or concert, with_a candidate." Justice Thomas concluded that the Provision is unconstitutional not only as applied to the Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee, but also on its face. Dissenting, Justices Stevens and Ginsburg agreed with the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

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COLORADO REP FED CAMPAIGN COMM v. FEC. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_95_489>.
COLORADO REP FED CAMPAIGN COMM v. FEC, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_95_489 (last visited June 25, 2014).
"COLORADO REP FED CAMPAIGN COMM v. FEC," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 25, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_95_489.