Friday, July 6, 2018

Libertarian Party Wins Procedural Ruling in Lawsuit Over Bequests and Federal Campaign Finance Law

Ballot Access News

On June 29, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell issued a ruling in Libertarian National Committee v Federal Election Commission, 1:16cv-121. The case concerns the maximum amount that a deceased individual may leave to a political party. It had been pending in the U.S. District Court since 2016. The most recent brief in the case had been filed by the FEC on October 26, 2017.
The FEC has long held that if a deceased individual leaves a large bequest to a political party, the political party cannot receive the money at the settlement of probate. Instead, it can only receive $33,900 in any calendar year, and the remainder must remain in limbo, until a year passes and the party can receive a second chunk of the money. This law is supposed to protect the public against bribery.
The ruling says that the party’s challenge to the law may be certified to the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. circuit. Congress has special rules about lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of federal campaign finance limits. Only certain courts are permitted to rule on such challenges, but just getting into the correct court requires persuading a U.S. District Court that the challenge is substantial and not frivolous. The ruling is 87 pages.

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