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McConnell v. FEC Update

June 2002

The landmark lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act ("BCRA") is proceeding before a three-judge panel in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Altogether, eleven complaints challenging the constitutionality of the BCRA have been filed and consolidated under the title of the lead case, Senator Mitch McConnell v. Federal Election Commission. The three-judge panel includes U.S. Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson and U.S. District Court Judges Colleen Kollar-Kotelly and Richard J. Leon.

Dozens of Plaintiffs Challenge BCRA

Lined up against BCRA's campaign restrictions are the following diverse array of organizations and individuals asserting numerous Constitutional claims under the First, Fifth, Fourteenth and Tenth Amendments:

McConnell v. FEC: Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN), Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU"), Center for Individual Freedom, Libertarian National Committee, Libertarian Party of Illinois, DuPage (Illinois) Political Action Committee, Alabama Republican Party, Jefferson County (Alabama) Republican Party, Associated Builders & Contractors, Associated Builders & Contractors Political Action Committee, Christian Coalition of America, Club for Growth, Indiana Family Institute, National Right to Life Committee, National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund, National Right to Life Political Action Committee, National Right to Work Committee, 60 Plus Association, Inc., Southeastern Legal Foundation, U.S. d/b/a ProEnglish, Martin Connors, Thomas McInerney, Trevor Southerland;

Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. FEC: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors;

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations v. FEC: AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education and Political Contributions Committee;

National Association of Broadcasters v. FEC: National Association of Broadcasters;

California Democratic Party v. FEC: California Democratic Party, California Republican Party, Yolo County (California) Democratic Central Committee, Santa Cruz County (California) Republican Central Committee, Art Torres, Shawn Steel, Timothy Morgan, Barbara Alby, Douglas R. Boyd, Sr.;

Republican National Committee v. FEC: Republican National Committee, Republican Party of Colorado, Republican Party of Ohio, Republican Party of New Mexico, Dallas County (Iowa) Republican County Central Committee;

Thompson v. FEC: Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Congressman Earl F. Hilliard (D-AL);

Paul v. FEC: Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), Gun Owners of America,, Citizens United, Michael Cloud, Carla Cloud;

National Rifle Association of America v. FEC: National Rifle Association, National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund;

Emily Echols v. FEC: Emily Echols and other citizens under the age of 18.

Legal Challenge to New $2,000 Contribution Limit
One complaint alleges that the BCRA's new $2,000-per election contribution limit is excessive and gives wealthy citizens disproportionate ability to support candidates of their choice in violation of the equal protection rights of less wealthy citizens. While novel, this theory will have to contend with the arguments presented by Congressmen Thompson and Hilliard who claim their equal protection rights are violated by the BCRA's prohibition against corporate contributions to political parties to facilitate get-out-the-vote activities.

Adams v. FEC: United States Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), California PIRG, Massachusetts PIRG, New Jersey PIRG, Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, The Fannie Lou Hamer Project, Victoria Jackson Gray Adams, Carrie Bolton, Cynthia Brown, Derek Cressman, Victoria Fitzgerald, Anurada Joshi, Peter Kostmayer, Nancy Russell, Kate Seely-Kirk, Rose Taylor, Stephanie Wilson.

Legislators Intervene in Defense of BCRA
In addition to those legislators who are in court in an effort to overturn the BCRA, several congressmen have intervened in defense of the BCRA.They include U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and James Jeffords (I-VT), as well as U.S. Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Martin Meehan (D-MA).

Court Orders Expedited Proceedings
The Court, facing a November 6, 2002 effective date for the new law, ordered expedited proceedings with all discovery to end by October 25 and oral arguments to be held December 4.The Court is expected to issue a ruling promptly following oral arguments.

The Court has ordered the following procedural timetable in the McConnell case:

McConnell v. FEC Procedural Timetable

April 24 General discovery begins

May 7
Deadline for amendment of pleadings, intervention or other parties, or consolidation of additional cases

May 27
Deadline for the Government's answers

August 26
Deadline for the parties to request documents, answers to interrogatories and request admissions

Sept. 18
Deadline for serving deposition notices

Sept. 30
End of all discovery

Oct. 4
Deadline to serve fact witness affidavits, expert reports and supporting documentary evidence

Oct. 4
Begins period for cross-examination of fact and expert witnesses

Oct. 14
Deadline to serve rebuttal affidavits, expert reports and documentary evidence

Oct. 25
Ends period for cross-examination of fact and expert witnesses

Nov. 4
Deadline for filing opening briefs in support of judgment, accompanied by fact witness and expert testimony and documentary evidence

Nov. 18
Deadline for filing opposition briefs

Nov. 25
Deadline for filing reply briefs

Dec. 4
Oral Argument

Track Case Developments on the Internet
You may track case developments at . All complaints, discovery requests, pleadings and court orders can be obtained at the Stanford website, as well as related legal materials.

For additional information, please contact Thomas W. Kirby (202.719.7062 or