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U.S. Supreme Court

Bread Political Action Comm'n v. FEC, 455 U.S. 577 (1982)

Bread Political Action Committee v. Federal Election Commission

No. 80-1481

Argued January 19, 1982

Decided March 8, 1982

455 U.S. 577


Section 310(a) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 lists three categories of plaintiffs who may challenge the constitutionality of any provision of the Act in a federal district court action in which the district court must certify all questions of constitutionality to the court of appeals sitting en banc: (1) the Federal Election Commission, (2) "the national committee of any political party," and (3) "any individual eligible to vote in any election for the office of President." Appellants, two trade associations and three political action committees (PAC's), filed an action in Federal District Court, challenging the validity of the provisions of the Act limiting the extent to which such associations and their PAC's may solicit funds for political purposes, and sought expedited consideration of the action under § 310(a). The District Court denied such consideration on the ground that appellants were not within any of the three categories listed as eligible to invoke § 310(a)'s expedited procedures. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that § 310(a) is available for use by plaintiffs whether they belong to an enumerated category or not, and, on subsequent certification from the District Court, upheld the challenged solicitation provisions.

Held: Only parties belonging to one of the three categories listed in § 310(a) may invoke its expedited procedures, and since appellants are not within any of those categories, they may not invoke such procedures. The text of § 310(a) states plainly enough which plaintiffs may invoke its special procedures. This plain language controls the construction of § 310(a), absent "clear evidence" of a "clearly expressed" contrary congressional intent, and appellants have not met the burden of showing such "clear evidence" of a contrary intent. The fact that Congress wanted a broad class of questions to be speedily resolved does not imply that it intended the courts to augment the enumeration of qualified plaintiffs. Nor is there any merit to appellants' contention that Congress specified the three enumerated classes of plaintiffs simply to remove any doubts about their standing, but not to exclude others by implication. Pp. 455 U. S. 580-585.

635 F.2d 621, reversed and remanded.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 455 U. S. 578

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