Practices  |  Election Law & Government Ethics

Election Law & First Amendment Litigation

Overview

Chambers USA has recognized that Wiley Rein’s 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, and in place of, the FEC.

Our recent federal campaign finance-related litigation experience includes:

  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington v. FEC, 299 F.Supp.3d 83 (2018)
    U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
    Currently litigating a challenge to the FEC’s decision to dismiss an administrative enforcement complaint alleging that a 501(c)(4) organization must register and report as a political committee.
  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington v. FEC, 243 F. Supp. 3d 91 (2017)
    U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
    Obtained partial dismissal of a complaint challenging the FEC’s decision to dismiss an administrative enforcement complaint filed by a third party against a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.
  • Van Hollen v. FEC, 811 F.3d 486 (2016)
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
    Successfully appealed a district court’s decision to strike down an FEC regulation limiting disclosure obligations for electioneering communications.
  • Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies v. FEC, 788 F.3d 312 (2015)
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
    Secured 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.
  • American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, 132 S. Ct. 2490 (2012)
    Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010)
    FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449 (2007)
    Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. v. FEC, 546 U.S. 410 (2006)
    Supreme Court of the United States
    Submitted briefs amicus curiae to the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with Wiley Rein’s arguments cited by the Court at oral argument and in its groundbreaking Citizens United v. FEC opinion.

Our state-level campaign finance litigation experience includes:

  • State v. Grocery Mfrs. Ass’n, 5 Wash.App.2d 169 (2018)
    Washington Court of Appeals
    Successfully appealing the portion of a Washington State trail court decision that imposed treble damages on a trade association participating in a state ballot initiative campaign.
  • State of Nevada v. Americans for Prosperity, Inc., No. 12 OC 03981B (2013)
    First Judicial District Court Nevada
    Won 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.
  • Center for Individual Freedom v. Tennant, 706 F.3d 270 (2013)
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
    Center for Individual Freedom v. Carmouche, 449 F.3d 655 (2006)
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    Center for Individual Freedom v. Corbett, No. 07-2792 (2007)
    U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    Obtained decisions favoring private organizations’ First Amendment rights to run advertising discussing candidates for state supreme courts.

Our recent, election-related commercial litigation experience includes:

  • Erika Peterman v. Republican Nat’l Comm., 369 F.Supp.3d 1053 (2019)
    U.S. District Court for the District of Montana
    Obtained summary judgment ruling against plaintiff’s claim of copyright infringement when court recognized a “fair use” defense to use of a photograph on a campaign’s website in the party committee’s independent expenditure mailer.
  • Karen McDougal v. American Media, Inc. (2018)
    Los Angeles Superior Court
    Worked to achieve a reasonable settlement for our client in connection with a lawsuit alleging, inter alia, campaign finance violations by the publisher of The National Enquirer and various fitness magazines.
  • Roger Nichols v. Club for Growth Action, 235 F. Supp. 3d 289 (2017)
    U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
    Successfully defended super PAC in lawsuit alleging copyright and Lanham Act violations in a televised political advertisement, and obtained dismissal of Lanham Act claims and negotiated reasonable settlement of remaining copyright claim.

Contact Us

Michael E. Toner
202.719.7545 | mtoner@wileyrein.com

Kathleen A. Kirby
202.719.3360 | kkirby@wileyrein.com

Our People

News & Insights

News & Insights