- Case Summary

University / Undergraduate
Modified: 25th Jun 2001
Wordcount: 525 words


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Legal Case Summary

Summary: US Supreme Court case considering constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act's expenditure limit provision.


The Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee (CRFCC) made expenditures for radio advertisements to oppose the potential nomination of a Democratic candidate for a US Senate seat in Colorado. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) brought an action against the CRFCC, asserting that the expenditures were subject to the limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). The case made it to the US Supreme Court, which had to determine whether these limitations breached the First Amendment's free speech protections.


The primary issue of this case was whether the expenditure limit provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act constituted a violation of the First Amendment's free speech protection. More specifically, is a political party's expenditure in connection with the campaign of a party's candidate subject to FECA's limit provisions.


This case has significant implications for campaign finance law and has greatly influenced the way money is viewed and used in politics. It affirms the principle that campaign spending is a form of expression protected by the First Amendment, even when spent by political parties. This decision further solidified the precedent set by earlier cases such as Buckley v. Valeo and has been used as a precedent in later campaign finance decisions like Citizens United v. FEC.


The Supreme Court held by a 5-4 vote that the FECA's limit on political party's independent expenditures was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The Court opined that imposing limits on independent expenditures by political parties infringes on free speech rights, as these expenditures do not pose a risk of corruption or the perception thereof comparable to that identified with contributions.


  • Federal Election Commission v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Comm., 533 U.S. 431 (2001).
  • Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).

Journalist Brief

In simple terms, this case revolved around whether the amount of money spent by a political party on a candidate campaign could be limited under law. The Supreme Court decided that such limitations are unconstitutional, as spending money on campaigns is seen as a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. This decision has had a significant impact on future campaign finance cases.


What was the main legal issue in this case?

Answer: The main legal issue revolved around the constitutionality of limiting political parties' expenditure in relation to campaigns under the Federal Election Campaign Act.

What was the court's decision?

Answer: The Court decided that the limit on political parties' independent expenditures was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

What is the significance of this case?

Answer: This case has played a significant role in shaping campaign finance laws. It affirmed the principle that campaign spending is a form of protected expression under the First Amendment.

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