Practices  |  Election Law & Government Ethics

Election Law & First Amendment Litigation


Wiley Rein "offers a wealth of experience" (Chambers USA) in election law, First Amendment, and constitutional litigation more broadly. As recognized by Chambers USA, our Election Law & Government Ethics Practice “[f]ields a large group of expert political law practitioners whose notable litigation capabilities provide additional strength.” We successfully represent clients before federal district courts, federal appeals courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as in state courts. This representation often involves First Amendment, equal protection, and due process challenges to campaign finance and other election laws at the federal and state levels. We have vast experience representing campaigns and political parties in recounts and at other stages of the electoral process. As the trend of filing lawsuits challenging Federal Election Commission (FEC) dismissals of complaints continues to grow, we also have led the way in protecting the interests of clients who have benefited from these FEC dismissals by intervening as defendants and litigating these matters alongside the FEC. 

Our recent litigation experience includes:

  • Successfully appealing a district court's decision to strike down an FEC regulation limiting disclosure obligations for electioneering communications. Van Hollen v. FEC, 811 F.3d 486 (D.C. Cir. 2016).
  • Securing the right of a 501(c)(4) organization, which was the beneficiary of a favorable decision by the FEC, to intervene as a defendant in a suit challenging the FEC’s decision. Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies v. FEC, No. 14-5199 (D.C. Cir. 2015).
  • Winning dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Nevada regulators alleging that a 501(c)(4) entity was required to register and report as a political committee. State of Nevada v. Americans for Prosperity, Inc., No. 12 OC 03981B (1st Jud. Dist. Ct. Nev. 2013).
  • Obtaining decisions favoring private organizations’ First Amendment rights to run advertising discussing candidates for state supreme courts. Center for Individual Freedom v. Tennant, 706 F.3d 270 (4th Cir. 2013); Center for Individual Freedom v. Carmouche, 449 F.3d 655 (5th Cir. 2006); Center for Individual Freedom v. Corbett, No. 07-2792 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 18, 2007).
  • Submitting briefs amicus curiae to the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, 132 S. Ct. 2490 (2012); Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) (cited by the Court at oral argument and in its opinion); FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449 (2007); Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. v. FEC, 546 U.S. 410 (2006), regarding challenges to federal regulation of corporate “express advocacy” and “electioneering communications.”
  • Winning rapid dismissal of a state political party’s complaint that a client’s televised issue ad made false claims. The ad described positions of a candidate for the U.S. Senate concerning a federal bill that would permit labor unions to force themselves on workers without a secret ballot. The dismissal for lack of probable cause protected free speech about candidates and their positions. Brian Melendez v. Minnesotans for Employee Freedom, 11-0320-19823-CV, State of MN Office of Administrative Hearings (Order of Dismissal, August 18, 2008)

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