Federal Court Rules Concerning Unauthorized Committee Naming - State and Federal Communications

March 22, 2019  •  

Federal Court Rules Concerning Unauthorized Committee Naming

On March 21, a federal court ruled an unconnected committee is not restricted from using candidates’ names in the titles of their websites and social media pages.

In Pursuing America’s Greatness v. FEC, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and denied the motion for summary judgment from the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The court ruled 11 C.F.R. § 102.14(a) unconstitutional and permanently enjoined the FEC from enforcing the application of 11 C.F.R. § 102.14(a).

Federal law requires a candidate’s committee to include the name of the candidate in the committee’s title and requires an unauthorized political committee to not use a candidate’s name in its title. The purpose of the law is to avoid confusion.

Through the regulation, the FEC had extended the naming prohibition to other committee activities, solicitations, and communications, including special project names for websites or social media pages.

The court found the regulation violates the First Amendment and the FEC had not shown the regulation is the least restrictive means of achieving the government’s interest.

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