James v. FEC

James v. FEC

The Center for Competitive Politics legal team, led by Legal Director Allen Dickerson, filed a complaint in the US District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the biennial aggregate limits on contributions to federal candidates as a violation of the First Amendment.

The case stems from the efforts of Virginia James, a private citizen, who seeks to give contributions directly to candidates up to the biennial aggregate limit of $117,000. However, federal law allows only $46,200 of that amount, in aggregate, to be given directly to candidates; the rest must be contributed to PACs and party committees. James is not challenging the overall limit, but rather wishes to give the entirety of her contributions to candidates directly, instead of being forced to act through PACs and other political organizations.

CCP argues that the landmark campaign finance case of Buckley v Valeo, which upheld overall aggregate limits, does not allow Congress to force citizens to divide their permissible contributions in a particular way. “If Congress has already declared a certain overall level of political support to be appropriate, citizens should be entitled to directly support the candidates of their choice at that level, rather than forcing them to contribute to professional political organizations.”

In light of the United States Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC, the court remanded the case with instructions to consider the case in light of the McCutcheon decision. On May 5th, the Circuit court ruled in favor of Virginia James.

Case Documents

District Court for the District of Columbia