Holmes v. FEC, No. 15-5120 (D.C. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff and her husband, eligible voters residing in Florida, filed suit against the FEC, alleging that a provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act, 52 U.S.C. 30110, violated the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. The district court declined to certify any questions and granted the Commission's motion for summary judgment. The court did not think that a district court may decline to certify a constitutional question simply because the plaintiff is arguing against Supreme Court precedent so long as the plaintiff mounts a non-frivolous argument in favor of overturning that precedent. Given the court's statement in Wagner v. Fed. Election Comm’n, see note 5 supra, and the uncertain meaning of the footnote in Cal. Med., the court cannot fault the district court for invoking “settled law” in declining to certify plaintiffs’ First Amendment question under section 30110. Although the district court declined to certify the Fifth Amendment issue on the ground that plaintiffs’ supporting arguments contradicted settled law, the court reached the same result for a different reason – namely, that the issue plaintiffs raise about the Fifth Amendment is a result of regulations, not the Act. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment declining to certify plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment question; the court reversed the district court's decision not to certify plaintiffs’ First Amendment question and to grant summary judgment to the Commission; and the court remanded for the district court to certify that question to the court of appeals en banc.