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DC Circuit reverses ruling allowing campaign donor disclosure regulations

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Tuesday reversed [opinion, PDF] a district court ruling in favor of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) [official website] which had permitted regulations requiring the disclosure of political donors. The FEC regulations [11 CFR 104.20] were promulgated from the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) [text, PDF]. The regulation in question requires the disclosure of donors to organizations that undertake electioneering communications. The court held that the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [opinion, PDF] made it clear that such a rule could not have been the intent of Congress. The appeals court ordered the district court to direct the FEC to reconsider its rule-making process, or to decide on the validity of the rule under Citizens United if the FEC does not reconsider.

Campaign finance laws have been a contentious issue recently. In June the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled that a district court erred in holding that corporations can contribute directly to political campaigns, and the US Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a Montana campaign finance law that restricted the amount of money corporations can spend on campaigns, holding that Citizens United invalidated the Montana law. That decision, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] reversed a decision by the Montana Supreme Court upholding the law [JURIST report]. In February the Supreme Court blocked enforcement [JURIST report] of the Montana Supreme Court ruling.

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