JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and IV, and delivered an opinion with respect to Part III, in which JUSTICE BRENNAN, JUSTICE WHITE, and JUSTICE STEVENS joined.
In this case we consider whether provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 86 Stat. 11, as amended, 2 U. S. C. § 431 et seq. (1976 ed. and Supp. III), limiting the amount an unincorporated association may contribute to a multicandidate political committee violate the First Amendment or the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. Concluding that these contribution limits are constitutional,
The California Medical Association (CMA) is a not-for-profit unincorporated association of approximately 25,000 doctors residing in California. In 1976, CMA formed the California Medical Political Action Committee (CALPAC). CALPAC is registered as a political committee with the Federal Election Commission, and is subject to the provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act relating to multicandidate political committees.
On May 17, 1979, pursuant to the special expedited review provisions of the Act set forth in 2 U. S. C. § 437h (1976 ed. and Supp. III),
Because the Commission vigorously contends that this Court does not have jurisdiction over this appeal, we first consider the complex judicial review provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
However, because Congress was concerned that its extensive amendments to the Act in 1974 might raise important constitutional questions requiring quick resolution,
Although Congress thus established two avenues for judicial review of constitutional questions arising under the Act, it failed to provide any mechanism for coordinating cases in which the same constitutional issues are raised by the same parties in both a § 437h declaratory judgment action and a § 437g enforcement proceeding. The Commission contends that this legislative oversight has allowed litigants, like appellants here, to disrupt and delay enforcement proceedings brought by the Commission under § 437g by instituting separate § 437h declaratory judgment actions in which the constitutional defenses to enforcement are asserted as affirmative claims. The Commission further argues that § 437h declaratory judgment actions may seriously undermine the functioning of the federal courts because of the special treatment that these courts are required to accord such cases. To alleviate these potential problems, the Commission urges this Court to construe the overlapping judicial review provisions of the Act narrowly so as to preclude the use of § 437h actions to litigate constitutional challenges to the Act that have been or might be raised as defenses to ongoing or contemplated Commission enforcement proceedings.
Although we agree with the Commission that the judicial review provisions of the Act are scarcely a blueprint for efficient litigation, we decline to construe § 437h in the manner suggested by the Commission.
In addition, the language of § 437g itself undercuts the Commission's contention that § 437h actions must be held in abeyance if the same parties are or may be involved in § 437g enforcement actions brought by the Commission. The statute expressly provides that § 437g enforcement actions
Although the $5,000 annual limit imposed by § 441a (a) (1) (C) on the amount that individuals and unincorporated associations may contribute to political committees is, strictly speaking, a contribution limitation, appellants seek to bring their challenge to this provision within the reasoning of Buckley. First, they contend that § 441a (a) (1) (C) is akin to an unconstitutional expenditure limitation because it restricts the ability of CMA to engage in political speech through a political committee, CALPAC. Appellants further contend that even if the challenged provision is viewed as a contribution limitation, it is qualitatively different from the contribution restrictions we upheld in Buckley. Specifically, appellants assert that because the contributions here flow to a political committee, rather than to a candidate, the danger of actual or apparent corruption of the political process recognized by this Court in Buckley as a sufficient justification for contribution restrictions is not present in this case.
While these contentions have some surface appeal, they are in the end unpersuasive. The type of expenditures that this Court in Buckley considered constitutionally protected were those made independently by a candidate, individual, or group in order to engage directly in political speech. Id., at 44-48. Nothing in § 441a (a) (1) (C) limits the amount CMA or any of its members may independently expend in order to advocate political views; rather, the statute restrains only the amount that CMA may contribute to CALPAC. Appellants nonetheless insist that CMA's contributions to CALPAC should receive the same constitutional protection as independent expenditures because, according to appellants,
We would naturally be hesitant to conclude that CMA's determination to fund CALPAC rather than to engage directly in political advocacy is entirely unprotected by the First Amendment.
This analysis controls the instant case. If the First Amendment rights of a contributor are not infringed by limitations on the amount he may contribute to a campaign organization which advocates the views and candidacy of a particular candidate, the rights of a contributor are similarly not impaired by limits on the amount he may give to a multicandidate political committee, such as CALPAC, which advocates the views and candidacies of a number of candidates.
We also disagree with appellants' claim that the contribution restriction challenged here does not further the governmental interest in preventing the actual or apparent corruption of the political process. Congress enacted § 441a (a) (1) (C) in part to prevent circumvention of the very limitations
Appellants also challenge the restrictions on contributions to political committees on the ground that they violate the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. Under the statute, corporations and labor unions may pay for the establishment, administration, and solicitation expenses of a "separate segregated fund to be utilized for political purposes." 2 U. S. C. § 441b (b) (2) (C). Contributions by these groups to such funds are not limited by the statute. 2 U. S. C. § 431 (8) (B) (vi) (1976 ed., Supp. III). Appellants assert that a corporation's or a union's contribution to its segregated political fund is directly analogous to an unincorporated association's contributions to a multicandidate political committee. Thus, they conclude that because contributions are unlimited in the former situation, they cannot be limited in the latter without violating equal protection.
We have already concluded that § 441a (a) (1) (C) does not offend the First Amendment. In order to conclude that it nonetheless violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment, we would have to find that because of this provision the Act burdens the First Amendment rights of persons subject to § 441a (a) (1) (C) to a greater extent than it burdens the same rights of corporations and unions, and that such differential treatment is not justified. We need not consider this second question—whether the discrimination alleged by appellants is justified—because we find no such discrimination. Appellants' claim of unfair treatment ignores the plain fact that the statute as a whole imposes far fewer restrictions on individuals and unincorporated associations than it does on corporations and unions. Persons subject to the restrictions of § 441a (a) (1) (C) may make unlimited expenditures on political speech; corporations
Accordingly, we conclude that the $5,000 limitation on the amount that persons may contribute to multicandidate political committees violates neither the First nor the Fifth Amendment. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is therefore affirmed.
JUSTICE BLACKMUN, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
I join Parts I, II, and IV of JUSTICE MARSHALL'S opinion which, to that extent, becomes an opinion for the Court.
I write separately, however, to note my view of appellants' First Amendment claims. Part III of the opinion appears to
Unlike the plurality, I would apply this "rigorous standard of review," 424 U. S., at 29, to the instant case, rather than relying on what I believe to be a mistaken view that contributions are "not the sort of political advocacy . . . entitled to full First Amendment protection." Ante, at 196. Appellees claim that 2 U. S. C. § 441a (a) (1) (C) is justified by the governmental
I stress, however, that this analysis suggests that a different result would follow if § 441a (a) (1) (C) were applied to contributions to a political committee established for the purpose of making independent expenditures, rather than contributions to candidates. By definition, a multicandidate political committee like CALPAC makes contributions to five or more candidates for federal office. § 441a (a) (4). Multicandidate political committees are therefore essentially conduits for contributions to candidates, and as such they pose a perceived threat of actual or potential corruption. In contrast, contributions to a committee that makes only independent expenditures pose no such threat. The Court repeatedly has recognized that "[e]ffective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association . . . ." NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U. S., at 460. By pooling their resources, adherents of an association amplify their own voices, see Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S., at 22; the association "is but the medium through which its individual members seek to make more effective the expression of their own views." NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U. S., at 459. Accordingly, I believe that contributions to political committees can be limited only if those contributions implicate the governmental interest in preventing actual or potential corruption, and if the limitation is no broader than necessary to achieve that interest. Because this narrow test
JUSTICE STEWART, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE POWELL, and JUSTICE REHNQUIST join, dissenting.
In § 313 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 U. S. C. § 437g (1976 ed., Supp. III), Congress created an elaborate system for the enforcement of the Act. That system may be summarized as follows:
If the Commission becomes aware of a possible violation of the Act, it must notify the person responsible for the violation (who is referred to in the Act as the respondent). 2 U. S. C. § 437g (a) (2) (1976 ed., Supp. III). After investigating the possible violation, the Commission must notify the respondent of any recommendation made by the Commission's General Counsel that the Commission decide whether there is probable cause to believe that the respondent has violated, or is about to violate, the Act. If the Commission determines that there is probable cause, it must attempt, for at least 30 but not more than 90 days, "to correct or prevent such violation by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion . . . ." § 437g (a) (4) (A) (i). (If the probable-cause determination is made within 45 days before an election, the Commission need seek conciliation for only 15 days. § 437g (a) (4) (A) (ii).) If conciliation fails, the Commission may institute a civil action for relief in an appropriate United States district court. § 437g (a) (6) (A) (1976 ed. and Supp. III). Any judgment of that court may be appealed to the appropriate court of appeals, and the judgment of the court of appeals is subject to review by this Court upon certiorari or certification. § 437g (a) (9). Section 437g (a) (10) provides that "[a]ny action brought under this subsection shall be advanced on the docket of the court in which filed, and put ahead of all other actions (other than other actions brought under this subsection or under section 437h of this title)."
The Court today holds that a person who has received formal notification of an impending § 437g enforcement proceeding may nevertheless bring an action under § 437h raising precisely the same constitutional issues presented in the § 437g proceeding. This holding interferes, I think, with the proper enforcement of the Act and with the sound functioning of the federal courts in ways that Congress cannot have intended.
Although neither the language of the Act nor its legislative history directly addresses the issue resolved by the Court's holding, the structure of the Act itself expresses Congress' intent that § 437h is not to be available as a means of thwarting a § 437g enforcement proceeding. The Act provides for two separate kinds of proceedings with two separate purposes.
Because the proceedings serve different purposes, Congress instituted separate sets of procedures tailored to the purposes of each proceeding. Thus Representative Hays—the chairman of the House Committee responsible for the bill—stated during debate: "The delicately balanced scheme of procedures and remedies set out in the act is intended to be the exclusive means for vindicating the rights and declaring the duties stated therein." 120 Cong. Rec. 35134 (1974). In particular, in § 437g Congress balanced in extensive detail the public's interest in an expeditious resolution of any § 437g question against the respondent's interest in fair procedures. Congress accordingly (1) specified the periods of time in which § 437g proceedings must be accomplished, (2) directed that § 437g cases need only be heard by ordinarily constituted panels in the courts of appeals, and (3) limited access to this Court to those cases certified to the Court and those cases which the Court chooses to review.
Under the Court's holding today, Congress' assessment of each of the cautiously limited rights contained in § 437g can easily be upset, to the detriment of the strong interest in a prompt resolution of a § 437g proceeding. First, Congress' requirement of a timely resolution of an enforcement proceeding can be disrupted by a respondent's decision to engraft a § 437h proceeding onto a § 437g action. If, in response to such a graft, the § 437g action is stayed pending the outcome of the § 437h proceeding, delay will obviously result. If the § 437g action is not stayed, delay may often be caused by the necessity of redoing work in light of the decision reached by the § 437h courts. Nor will the fact that an appeal has already been had on the abstract constitutional principle make up for some of that lost time, since an appeal on the question of whether the constitutional principle was correctly applied will still be available under § 437g.
Not only will Congress' careful balancing of interests thus be undone by today's holding, but what Representative Hays referred to as the Act's "comprehensive system of civil enforcement," 120 Cong. Rec. 35134 (1974), is likely to be impaired by the strain placed on the Federal Election Commission by the necessity of carrying on two lines of litigation where the Act envisions but one. I see no indication that by adopting § 437h—which its author, Senator Buckley, said "merely provides for the expeditious review of the constitutional questions I have raised," 120 Cong. Rec. 10562 (1974)— Congress intended either to expand the rights of § 437g respondents or to contract the Government's ability to stop violations of the Act promptly.
I cannot believe that Congress intended to require every federal court of appeals to hear en banc every constitutional issue arising in a § 437g proceeding. En banc hearings drain large amounts of judicial time, and since they require the summoning together in the larger federal appellate courts of some two dozen circuit judges, they are cumbersome as well. As the Court of Appeals said in the instant case, "if mandatory en banc hearings were multiplied, the effect on the calendars of this court as to such matters and as to all other business might be severe and disruptive." 641 F.2d 619, 632. I would hold that, where a respondent has been formally notified of a § 437g enforcement proceeding, the respondent may not use the issues raised in that enforcement proceeding as a basis for an action under § 437h. I would also hold that the individual members of the respondent associations in the instant case fall within the same bar, given the identity of the interests of the associations and their
Accordingly, I would dismiss this appeal for want of jurisdiction.
"It merely provides for expeditious review of the constitutional questions I have raised. I am sure we will all agree that if, in fact, there is a serious question as to the constitutionality of this legislation, it is in the interest of everyone to have the question determined by the Supreme Court at the earliest possible time." 120 Cong. Rec. 10562 (1974).
The sole explanation of this provision in the House was by Representative Frenzel, who stated:
"I believe within this conference report there are at least 100 items questionable from a constitutional standpoint. . . .
"I do call . . . attention . . . to the fact that any individual under this bill has a direct method to raise these questions and to have those considered as quickly as possible by the Supreme Court." Id., at 35140.
Moreover, in its effort to justify rewriting § 437h, the dissent exaggerates the burden § 437h actions have placed on the federal courts. To date, there have been only a handful of cases certified to the Courts of Appeals under this procedure. Anderson v. Federal Election Comm'n, 634 F.2d 3 (CA1 1980); Federal Election Comm'n v. Central Long Island Tax Reform Immediately Committee, 616 F.2d 45 (CA2 1980); Republican National Committee v. Federal Election Comm'n, 616 F.2d 1 (CA2 1979), summarily aff'd, 445 U.S. 955 (1980); Federal Election Comm'n v. Lance, 635 F.2d 1132 (CA5 1981); Bread Political Action Committee v. Federal Election Comm'n, 591 F.2d 29 (CA7 1979), appeal pending, No. 80-1481; Buckley v. Valeo, 171 U. S. App. D. C. 172, 519 F.2d 821 (1975), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 424 U.S. 1 (1976); Clark v. Valeo, 182 U. S. App. D. C. 21, 559 F.2d 642 (1972), summarily aff'd sub nom. Clark v. Kimmitt, 431 U.S. 950 (1977); Martin Tractor Co. v. Federal Election Comm'n, 200 U. S. App. D. C. 322, 627 F.2d 375, cert. denied sub nom. National Chamber Alliance for Politics v. Federal Election Comm'n, 449 U.S. 954 (1980). Moreover, the Federal Election Campaign Act is not an unlimited fountain of constitutional questions, and it is thus reasonable to assume that resort to § 437h will decrease in the future. Under these circumstances, we do not believe that § 437h poses any significant threat to the effective functioning of the federal courts.
None of these considerations, however, pertain to this case. At least the individual appellants have standing to bring this challenge. See n. 6, supra. Additionally, appellants here expressly challenge the statute on its face, and there is no suggestion that the statute is susceptible to an interpretation that would remove the need for resolving the constitutional questions raised by appellants. Finally, as evidenced by the divided en banc court below, the issues here are neither insubstantial nor settled. We therefore conclude that this case is properly before us pursuant to § 437h.
"A contribution serves as a general expression of support for a candidate and his views, but does not communicate the underlying basis for the support. The quantity of communication by the contributor does not increase perceptibly with the size of his contribution, since the expression rests solely on the undifferentiated, symbolic act of contributing. At most, the size of the contribution provides a very rough index of the intensity of the contributor's support for the candidate. A limitation on the amount of money a person may give to a candidate or campaign organization thus involves little direct restraint on his political communication, for it permits the symbolic expression of support evidenced by a contribution but does not in any way infringe the contributor's freedom to discuss candidates and issues." 424 U. S., at 21 (footnote omitted).
Under this analysis, CMA's contributions to CALPAC symbolize CMA's general approval of CALPAC's role in the political process. However, this attenuated form of speech does not resemble the direct political advocacy to which this Court in Buckley accorded substantial constitutional protection.
"The conferees' decision to impose more precisely defined limitations on the amount an individual may contribute to a political committee, other than a candidate's committees, and to impose new limits on the amount a person or multicandidate committee may contribute to a political committee, other than candidates' committees, is predicated on the following considerations: first, these limits restrict the opportunity to circumvent the $1,000 and $5,000 limits on contributions to a candidate; second, these limits serve to assure that candidates' reports reveal the root source of the contributions the candidate has received; and third, these limitations minimize the adverse impact on the statutory scheme caused by political committees that appear to be separate entities pursuing their own ends, but are actually a means for advancing a candidate's campaign." H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 94-1057, pp. 57-58 (1976).
Thus, contributions for administrative support clearly fall within the sorts of donations limited by § 441a (a) (1) (C). Appellants contend, however, that because these contributions are earmarked for administrative support, they lack any potential for corrupting the political process. We disagree. If unlimited contributions for administrative support are permissible, individuals and groups like CMA could completely dominate the operations and contribution policies of independent political committees such as CALPAC. Moreover, if an individual or association was permitted to fund the entire operation of a political committee, all moneys solicited by that committee could be converted into contributions, the use of which might well be dictated by the committee's main supporter. In this manner, political committees would be able to influence the electoral process to an extent disproportionate to their public support and far greater than the individual or group that finances the committee's operations would be able to do acting alone. In so doing, they could corrupt the political process in a manner that Congress, through its contribution restrictions, has sought to prohibit. We therefore conclude that § 441a (a) (1) (C) applies equally to all forms of contributions specified in § 431 (8) (A), and assess appellants' constitutional claims from that perspective.
The Court's opinion also suggests that the fact that § 437g proceedings are to be put ahead of all other actions except "other actions brought under this subsection or under section 437h" somehow supports its holding. There is no evidence that this provision of the statute contemplates more than that a court might have a wholly separate § 437h case on its docket at the time that a § 437g action is filed, and there is no evidence that Congress intended "other actions brought . . . under section 437h" to include a § 437h action which is in practical effect the same case as the § 437g action.