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Buckley v. Valeo

United States Supreme Court
424 U.S. 1 (1976)



The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA), as amended in 1974, limited the amount of individual and group political contributions. Contributions and expenditures above certain threshold levels had to be reported and publicly disclosed. A system for public funding of Presidential campaign activities was established, and a Federal Election Commission (FEC) was established to administer and enforce the legislation. The FEC was composed of two members appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate, two members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and two members appointed by the President. The Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives were ex officio members without voting privileges. Senator James L. Buckley (plaintiff) filed a lawsuit against Francis Valeo (defendant), a representative of the FEC, in federal district court on the grounds that (1) the FECA violated the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of speech and that (2) given the FEC’s broad rulemaking and enforcement powers, the separation of powers doctrine precluded Congress from giving itself authority to appoint the commission’s members. The district court denied relief, and the court of appeals affirmed. Buckley appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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