Federal Election Commission v. NRA Political Victory Fund

PETITIONER:Federal Election Commission
RESPONDENT:Nra Political Victory Fund et al.
LOCATION:U.S. Department of Transportation

DOCKET NO.: 93-1151
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 513 US 88 (1994)
ARGUED: Oct 11, 1994
DECIDED: Dec 06, 1994

Charles J. Cooper – on behalf of the Respondents
Lawrence M. Noble – on behalf of the Petitioner
Paul Bender – on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae

Facts of the case


Media for Federal Election Commission v. NRA Political Victory Fund

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 11, 1994 in Federal Election Commission v. NRA Political Victory Fund

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – December 06, 1994 in Federal Election Commission v. NRA Political Victory Fund

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the court to announce in number 93-1151, the Federal Election Commission versus the NRA Political Victory Fund.

The Federal Election Commission was created by Congress to oversee the enforcement of various laws regulating the financing of political campaigns.

It bought an action against the respondent to enforce a provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

But the court of appeals for the District Columbia Circuit held that the presence on the commission of two non-voting congressional representatives violated the separation of powers principle of the constitution and the Court of Appeals therefore said the Federal Election Commission could not have the order enforced.

The commission in its own name filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in this Court two days before the expiration of the 90-day filing period for that sort of a petition mandated by Law.

The Solicitor General several months later authorized the commission petition for a certiorari.

We don’t reach the merits of the commission’s claims but instead dismiss the commission petition for a certiorari for lack of jurisdiction.

Congress is by statute concentrated the authority to litigate for the government in this court in the office of the Solicitor General.

While congress may of course exempt by statute particular agencies from this requirement.

We hold that the relevant statutes in this case do not constitute such an exemption and we further hold that the attempted ratification of the commission’s petition by the Solicitor General is unavailing because the Solicitor General may not retroactively authorize untimely agency petitions.

To hold otherwise we give that official unilateral power to extend the 90-day statutory filing period by weeks or even months and thereby really blur of the jurisdictional deadline.

Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion.

Justice Ginsburg took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.