Buckley v. Valeo


Congress amended the Election Campaign Act of 1971 to regulate overall campaign spending.  One component was to create the Federal Election Commission.  Congress gave the Commission a significant amount of executor power for administering the broad provisions of the Act.  The Commission also had 6 voting members, four of whom were not to be appointed by either the Judicial or Executive Branches.  This implied that those four members were exclusively appointed by the legislature.  Plaintiffs argued that the Appointment Clause of the constitution provides the only proper method for selecting appointees.  Moreover, Congress did not have the authority to discharge the four appointees.


Whether the exclusively legislative appointment process for the FEC was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers doctrine.


Yes, appointment provisions of the Act are invalid.  The constitution proscribes a process for appointments.  These appointees are called “officers of the united states.”  They are to have some formal or informal appointment via the executive branch.  For the appointments to be proper, appointees under the Act could only perform duties that are specifically related to the proscribed functions of Congress.  Their duties could not relate to the execution of laws, nor the administration of laws.  Therefore, the duties proscribed to the appointees under the Act were unconstitutional as was their appointment process.

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