OOOOBuckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1



Argued: November 10, 1975
Decided: January 30, 1976

BURGER, C.J., Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part

Mr. Chief Justice Burger, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

For reasons set forth more fully later, I dissent from those parts of the Court's holding sustaining the statutory provisions (a) for disclosure of small contributions, (b) for limitations on contributions, and (c) for public financing of Presidential campaigns. In my view, the Act's disclosure scheme is impermissibly broad and violative of the First Amendment as it relates to reporting contributions in excess of $10 and $100. The contribution limitations infringe on First Amendment liberties and suffer from the same infirmities that the Court correctly sees in the expenditure ceilings. The system for public financing of Presidential campaigns is, in my judgment, an impermissible intrusion by the Government into the traditionally private political process.

More broadly, the Court's result does violence to the intent of Congress in this comprehensive scheme of campaign finance. By dissecting the Act bit by bit, and casting off vital parts, the Court fails to recognize that the whole of this Act is greater than the sum of its parts. Congress intended to regulate all aspects of federal campaign finances, but what remains after today's holding leaves no more than a shadow of what Congress contemplated. I question whether the residue leaves a workable program.


Disclosure is, in principle, the salutary and constitutional remedy for most of the ills Congress was seeking to alleviate. I therefore agree fully with the broad proposition that public disclosure of contributions by individuals and by entities — particularly corporations and labor unions — is an effective means of revealing the type of political support that is sometimes coupled with expectations of special favors or rewards. That disclosure impinges on First Amendment rights is conceded by the Court, ante at 666, but, given the objectives to which disclosure is directed, I agree that the need for disclosure outweighs individual constitutional claims.

Disclosure is, however, subject to First Amendment limitations which are to be defined by looking to the relevant public interests. The legitimate public interest is the elimination of the appearance and reality of corrupting influences. Serious dangers to the very processes of government justify disclosure of contributions of such dimensions reasonably thought likely to purchase special favors. These fears have been at the root of the Court's prior decisions upholding disclosure requirements, and I therefore have no disagreement, for example, with Burroughs v. United States, 290 U.S. 534 (1934).

The Court's theory, however, goes beyond permissible limits. Under the Court's view, disclosure serves broad informational purposes, enabling the public to be fully informed on matters of acute public interest. Forced disclosure of one aspect of a citizen's political activity, under this analysis, serves the public right to know. This open-ended approach is the only plausible justification for the otherwise irrationally low ceilings of $10 and $100 for anonymous contributions. The burdens of these low ceilings seem to me obvious, and the Court does not try to question this. With commendable candor, the Court acknowledges:

It is undoubtedly true that public disclosure of contributions to candidates and political parties will deter some individuals who otherwise might contribute.

Ante at 68. Examples come readily to mind. Rank-and-file union members or rising junior executives may now think twice before making even modest contributions to a candidate who is disfavored by the union or management hierarchy. Similarly, potential contributors may well decline to take the obvious risks entailed in making a reportable contribution to the opponent of a well entrenched incumbent. This fact of political life did not go unnoticed by the Congress:

The disclosure provisions really have, in fact, made it difficult for challengers to challenge incumbents.

120 Cong.Rec. 34392 (1974) (remarks of Sen. Long). See Pollard v. Roberts, 283 F.Supp. 248 (ED Ark.), aff'd per curiam, 393 U.S. 14 (1968).

The public right to know ought not be absolute when its exercise reveals private political convictions. Secrecy, like privacy, is not per se criminal. On the contrary, secrecy and privacy as to political preferences and convictions are fundamental in a free society. For example, one of the great political reforms was the advent of the secret ballot as a universal practice. Similarly, the enlightened labor legislation of our time has enshrined the secrecy of choice of a bargaining representative for workers. In other contexts, this Court has seen to it that governmental power cannot be used to force a citizen to disclose his private affiliations, NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415 (1963), even without a record reflecting any systematic harassment or retaliation, as in Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479 (1960). For me it is far too late in the day to recognize an ill-defined "public interest" to breach the historic safeguards guaranteed by the First Amendment.

We all seem to agree that, whatever the legitimate public interest in this area, proper analysis requires us to scrutinize the precise means employed to implement that interest. The balancing test used by the Court requires that fair recognition be given to competing interests. With respect, I suggest the Court has failed to give the traditional standing to some of the First Amendment values at stake here. Specifically, it has failed to confine the particular exercise of governmental power within limits reasonably required.

In every case, the power to regulate must be so exercised as not, in attaining a permissible end, unduly to infringe the protected freedom.

Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 304 (1940). "Unduly" must mean not more than necessary, and, until today, the Court has recognized this criterion in First Amendment cases:

In the area of First Amendment freedoms, government has the duty to confine itself to the least intrusive regulations which are adequate for the purpose.

Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301, 310 (1965) (BRENNAN, J., concurring). (Emphasis added.) Similarly, the Court has said:

[E]ven though the governmental purpose be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties when the end can be more narrowly achieved. The breadth of legislative abridgment must be viewed in the light of less drastic means for achieving the same basic purpose.

Shelton v. Tucker, supra at 488.

In light of these views, 1 it seems to me that the threshold limits fixed at $10 and $100 for anonymous contributions are constitutionally impermissible on their face. As the Court's opinion notes, ante at 83, Congress gave little or no thought, one way or the other, to these limits, but rather lifted figures out of a 65-year-old statute. 2 As we are all painfully aware, the 1976 dollar is not what it used to be and is surely not the dollar of 1910. Ten dollars in 1976 will, for example, purchase only what $1.68 would buy in 1910. United States Dept. of Labor, Handbook of Labor Statistics 1975, p. 313 (Dec.1975). To argue that a 1976 contribution of $10 or $100 entails a risk of corruption or its appearance is simply too extravagant to be maintained. No public right to know justifies the compelled disclosure of such contributions, at the risk of discouraging them. There is, in short, no relation whatever between the means used and the legitimate goal of ventilating possible undue influence. Congress has used a shotgun to kill wrens as well as hawks.

In saying that the lines drawn by Congress are "not wholly without rationality," the Court plainly fails to apply the traditional test:

Precision of regulation must be the touchstone in an area so closely touching on our most precious freedoms.

NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 438 (1938). See, e.g., Aptheker v. Secretary of State, 378 U.S. 500 (1964); United States v. Robel, 389 U.S. 258 (1967); Lamont v. Postmaster General, supra. The Court's abrupt departure 3 from traditional standards is wrong; surely a greater burden rests on Congress than merely to avoid "irrationality" when regulating in the core area of the First Amendment. Even taking the Court at its word, the particular dollar amounts fixed by Congress that must be reported to the Commission fall short of meeting the test of rationality when measured by the goals sought to be achieved.

Finally, no legitimate public interest has been shown in forcing the disclosure of modest contributions that are the prime support of new, unpopular, or unfashionable political causes. There is no realistic possibility that such modest donations will have a corrupting influence, especially on parties that enjoy only "minor" status. Major parties would not notice them; minor parties need them. Furthermore, as the Court candidly recognizes, ante at 70, minor parties and new parties tend to be sharply ideological in character, and the public can readily discern where such parties stand, without resorting to the indirect device of recording the names of financial supporters. To hold, as the Court has, that privacy must sometimes yield to congressional investigations of alleged subversion is quite different from making domestic political partisans give up privacy. Cf. Estland v. United States Servicemen's Fund, 421 U.S. 491 (1975). In any event, the dangers to First Amendment rights here are too great. Flushing out the names of supporters of minority parties will plainly have a deterrent effect on potential contributors, a consequence readily admitted by the Court, ante at 71, 83, and supported by the record. 4

I would therefore hold unconstitutional the provisions requiring reporting of contributions of more than $10 and to make a public record of the name, address, and occupation of a contributor of more than $100.


I agree fully with that part of the Court's opinion that holds unconstitutional the limitations the Act puts on campaign expenditures which

place substantial and direct restrictions on the ability of candidates, citizens, and associations to engage in protected political expression, restrictions that the First Amendment cannot tolerate.

Ante at 58-59. Yet when it approves similarly stringent limitations on contributions, the Court ignores the reasons it finds so persuasive in the context of expenditures. For me, contributions and expenditures are two sides of the same First Amendment coin.

By limiting campaign contributions, the Act restricts the amount of money that will be spent on political activity — and does so directly. Appellees argue, as the Court notes, that these limits will "act as a brake on the skyrocketing cost of political campaigns," ante at 26. In treating campaign expenditure limitations, the Court says that the

First Amendment denies government the power to determine that spending to promote one's political views is wasteful, excessive, or unwise.

Ante at 57. Limiting contributions, as a practical matter, will limit expenditures and will put an effective ceiling on the amount of political activity and debate that the Government will permit to take place. The argument that the ceiling is not, after all, very low as matters now stand gives little comfort for the future, since the Court elsewhere notes the rapid inflation in the cost of political campaigning. 5 Ante at 57.

The Court attempts to separate the two communicative aspects of political contributions — the "moral" support that the gift itself conveys, which the Court suggests is the same whether the gift is $10 or $10,000, 6 and the fact that money translates into communication. The Court dismisses the effect of the limitations on the second aspect of contributions: "[T]he transformation of contributions into political debate involves speech by someone other than the contributor." Ante at 21. On this premise — that contribution limitations restrict only the speech of "someone other than the contributor" — rests the Court's justification for treating contributions differently from expenditures. The premise is demonstrably flawed; the contribution limitations will, in specific instances, limit exactly the same political activity that the expenditure ceilings limit, 7 and at least one of the "expenditure" limitations the Court finds objectionable operates precisely like the "contribution" limitations. 8

The Court's attempt to distinguish the communication inherent in political contributions from the speech aspects of political expenditures simply "will not wash." We do little but engage in word games unless we recognize that people — candidates and contributors — spend money on political activity because they wish to communicate ideas, and their constitutional interest in doing so is precisely the same whether they or someone else utters the words.

The Court attempts to make the Act seem less restrictive by casting the problem as one that goes to freedom of association, rather than freedom of speech. I have long thought freedom of association and freedom of expression were two peas from the same pod. The contribution limitations of the Act impose a restriction on certain forms of associational activity that are, for the most part, as the Court recognizes, ante at 29 harmless in fact. And the restrictions are hardly incidental in their effect upon particular campaigns. Judges are ill-equipped to gauge the precise impact of legislation, but a law that impinges upon First Amendment rights requires us to make the attempt. It is not simply speculation to think that the limitations on contributions will foreclose some candidacies. 9 The limitations will also alter the nature of some electoral contests drastically. 10

At any rate, the contribution limits are a far more severe restriction on First Amendment activity than the sort of "chilling" legislation for which the Court has shown such extraordinary concern in the past. See, e.g., Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971); see also cases reviewed in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973); Redrup v. New York, 386 U.S. 767 (1967); Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413 (1966). If such restraints can be justified at all, they must be justified by the very strongest of state interests. With this much the Court clearly agrees; the Court even goes so far as to note that legislation cutting into these important interests must employ "means closely drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgment of associational freedoms." Ante at 25.

After a bow to the "weighty interests" Congress meant to serve, the Court then forsakes this analysis in one sentence:

Congress was surely entitled to conclude that disclosure was only a partial measure, and that contribution ceilings were a necessary legislative concomitant to deal with the reality or appearance of corruption. . . .

Ante at 28. In striking down the limitations on campaign expenditures, the Court relies in part on its conclusion that other means — namely, disclosure and contribution ceilings — will adequately serve the statute's aim. It is not clear why the same analysis is not also appropriate in weighing the need for contribution ceilings in addition to disclosure requirements. Congress may well be entitled to conclude that disclosure was a "partial measure," but I had not thought until today that Congress could enact its conclusions in the First Amendment area into laws immune from the most searching review by this Court.

Finally, it seems clear to me that, in approving these limitations on contributions, the Court must rest upon the proposition that "pooling" money is fundamentally different from other forms of associational or joint activity. But see ante at 66. I see only two possible ways in which money differs from volunteer work, endorsements, and the like. Money can be used to buy favors, because an unscrupulous politician can put it to personal use; second, giving money is a less visible form of associational activity. With respect to the first problem, the Act does not attempt to do any more than the bribery laws to combat this sort of corruption. In fact, the Act does not reach at all, and certainly the contribution limits do not reach, forms of "association" that can be fully as corrupt as a contribution intended as a quid pro quo — such as the eleventh-hour endorsement by a former rival, obtained for the promise of a federal appointment. This underinclusiveness is not a constitutional flaw, but it demonstrates that the contribution limits do not clearly focus on this first distinction. To the extent Congress thought that the second problem, the lesser visibility of contributions, required that money be treated differently from other forms of associational activity, disclosure laws are the simple and wholly efficacious answer; they make the invisible apparent.


I dissent from Part III sustaining the constitutionality of the public financing provisions of Subtitle H.

Since the turn of this century, when the idea of Government subsidies for political campaigns first was broached, there has been no lack of realization that the use of funds from the public treasury to subsidize political activity of private individuals would produce substantial and profound questions about the nature of our democratic society. The Majority Leader of the Senate, although supporting such legislation in 1967, said that "the implications of these questions . . . go to the very heart and structure of the Government of the Republic." 11 The Solicitor General, in his amicus curiae brief, states that "the issues involved here are of indisputable moment." 12 He goes on to express his view that public financing will have "profound effects in the way candidates approach issues and each other." 13 Public financing, he notes,

affects the role of the party in campaigns for office, changes the role of the incumbent government vis-a-vis all parties, and affects the relative strengths and strategies of candidates vis-a-vis each other and their party's leaders. 14

The Court chooses to treat this novel public financing of political activity as simply another congressional appropriation whose validity is "necessary and proper" to Congress' power to regulate and reform elections and primaries, relying on United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299 (1941), and Burroughs v. United States, 290 U.S. 534 (1934). No holding of this Court is directly in point, because no federal scheme allocating public funds in a comparable manner has ever been before us. The uniqueness of the plan is not relevant, of course, to whether Congress has power to enact it. Indeed, I do not question the power of Congress to regulate elections; nor do I challenge the broad proposition that the General Welfare Clause is a grant, not a limitation, of power. M'Culloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 420 (1819); United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1, 66 (1936).

I would, however, fault the Court for not adequately analyzing and meeting head on the issue whether public financial assistance to the private political activity of individual citizens and parties is a legitimate expenditure of public funds. The public monies at issue here are not being employed simply to police the integrity of the electoral process or to provide a forum for the use of all participants in the political dialogue, as would, for example, be the case if free broadcast time were granted. Rather, we are confronted with the Government's actual financing, out of general revenues, a segment of the political debate itself. As Senator Howard Baker remarked during the debate on this legislation:

I think there is something politically incestuous about the Government financing and, I believe, inevitably then regulating, the day-to-day procedures by which the Government is selected. . . .

I think it is extraordinarily important that the Government not control the machinery by which the public expresses the range of its desires, demands, and dissent.

120 Cong.Rec. 8202 (1974). If this "incest" affected only the issue of the wisdom of the plan, it would be none of the concern of judges. But, in my view, the inappropriateness of subsidizing, from general revenues, the actual political dialogue of the people — the process which begets the Government itself — is as basic to our national tradition as the separation of church and state also deriving from the First Amendment, see Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612 (1971); Walz v. Tax Comm'n, 397 U.S. 664, 668-669 (1970), or the separation of civilian and military authority, see Orloff v. Willoughby, 345 U.S. 83, 93-94 (1953), neither of which is explicit in the Constitution, but both of which have developed through case-by-case adjudication of express provisions of the Constitution.

Recent history shows dangerous examples of systems with a close, "incestuous" relationship between "government" and "politics"; the Court's opinion simply dismisses possible dangers by noting that:

Subtitle H is a congressional effort not to abridge, restrict, or censor speech, but rather to use public money to facilitate and enlarge public discussion and participation in the electoral process, goals vital to a self-governing people.

Ante at 92-93. Congress, it reassuringly adds by way of a footnote, has expressed its determination to avoid such a possibility. 15 Ante at 93 n. 126. But the Court points to no basis for predicting that the historical pattern of "varying measures of control and surveillance," Lemon v. Kurtzman, supra at 1, which usually accompany grants from Government will not also follow in this case. 16 Up to now, the Court has always been extraordinarily sensitive, when dealing with First Amendment rights, to the risk that the "flag tends to follow the dollars." Yet, here, where Subtitle H specifically requires the auditing of records of political parties and candidates by Government inspectors, 17 the Court shows little sensitivity to the danger it has so strongly condemned in other contexts. See, e.g., Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947). Up to now, this Court has scrupulously refrained, absent claims of invidious discrimination, 18 from entering the arena of intraparty disputes concerning the seating of convention delegates. Graham v. Fong Eu, 403 F.Supp. 37 (ND Cal.1975), summarily aff'd, 423 U.S. 1067 (1976); Cousins v. Wigoda, 419 U.S. 477 (1975); O'Brien v. Brown, 409 U.S. 1 (1972). An obvious underlying basis for this reluctance is that delegate selection and the management of political conventions have been considered a strictly private political matter, not the business of Government inspectors. But once the Government finances these national conventions by the expenditure of millions of dollars from the public treasury, we may be providing a springboard for later attempts to impose a whole range of requirements on delegate selection and convention activities. Does this foreshadow judicial decisions allowing the federal courts to "monitor" these conventions to assure compliance with court orders or regulations?

Assuming, arguendo, that Congress could validly appropriate public money to subsidize private political activity, it has gone about the task in Subtitle H in a manner which is not, in my view, free of constitutional infirmity. 19 I do not question that Congress has "wide discretion in the manner of prescribing details of expenditures" in some contexts, Cincinnati Soap Co. v. United States, 301 U.S. 308, 321 (1937). Here, however, Congress has not itself appropriated a specific sum to attain the ends of the Act, but has delegated to a limited group of citizens — those who file tax returns — the power to allocate general revenue for the Act's purposes, and of course only a small percentage of that limited group has exercised the power. There is nothing to assure that the "fund" will actually be adequate for the Act's objectives. Thus, I find it difficult to see a rational basis for concluding that this scheme would, in fact, attain the stated purposes of the Act when its own funding scheme affords no real idea of the amount of the available funding.

I agree with MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST that the scheme approved by the Court today invidiously discriminates against minor parties. Assuming, arguendo, the constitutionality of the over-all scheme, there is a legitimate governmental interest in requiring a group to make a "preliminary showing of a significant modicum of support." Jenness v. Fortson, 403 U.S. 431, 442 (1971). But the present system could preclude or severely hamper access to funds before a given election by a group or an individual who might, at the time of the election, reflect the views of a major segment or even a majority of the electorate. The fact that there have been few drastic realignments in our basic two-party structure in 200 years is no constitutional justification for freezing the status quo of the present major parties at the expense of such future political movements. Cf. discussion ante at 73. When and if some minority party achieves majority status, Congress can readily deal with any problems that arise. In short, I see grave risks in legislation, enacted by incumbents of the major political parties, which distinctly disadvantages minor parties or independent candidates. This Court has, until today, been particularly cautious when dealing with enactments that tend to perpetuate those who control legislative power. See Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 570 (1964).

I would also find unconstitutional the system of matching grants which makes a candidate's ability to amass private funds the sole criterion for eligibility for public funds. Such an arrangement can put at serious disadvantage a candidate with a potentially large, widely diffused — but poor — constituency. The ability of a candidate's supporters to help pay for his campaign cannot be equated with their willingness to cast a ballot for him. See Lubin v. Panish, 415 U.S. 709 (1974); Bullock v. Carter, 405 U.S. 134 (1972).


I cannot join in the attempt to determine which parts of the Act can survive review here. The statute as it now stands is unworkable and inequitable.

I agree with the Court's holding that the Act's restrictions on expenditures made "relative to a clearly identified candidate," independent of any candidate or his committee, are unconstitutional. Ante at 39-51. Paradoxically, the Court upholds the limitations on individual contributions, which embrace precisely the same sort of expenditures "relative to a clearly identified candidate" if those expenditures are "authorized or requested" by the "candidate or his agents." Ante at 24 n. 25. The Act, as cut back by the Court, thus places intolerable pressure on the distinction between "authorized" and "unauthorized" expenditures on behalf of a candidate; even those with the most sanguine hopes for the Act might well concede that the distinction cannot be maintained. As the Senate Report on the bill said:

Whether campaigns are funded privately or publicly . . . controls are imperative if Congress is to enact meaningful limits on direct contributions. Otherwise, wealthy individuals limited to a $3,000 direct contribution [$1,000 in the bill as finally enacted] could also purchase one hundred thousand dollars' worth of advertisements for a favored candidate. Such a loophole would render direct contribution limits virtually meaningless.

S.Rep. No. 93-689, p. 18 (1974). Given the unfortunate record of past attempts to draw distinctions of this kind, see ante at 61-62, it is not too much to predict that the Court's holding will invite avoidance, if not evasion, of the intent of the Act, with "independent" committees undertaking "unauthorized" activities in order to escape the limits on contributions. The Court's effort to blend First Amendment principles and practical politics has produced a strange offspring.

Moreover, the Act — or so much as the Court leaves standing — creates significant inequities. A candidate with substantial personal resources is now given by the Court a clear advantage over his less affluent opponents, who are constrained by law in fundraising, because the Court holds that the "First Amendment cannot tolerate" any restrictions on spending. Ante at 59. Minority parties, whose situation is difficult enough under an Act that excludes them from public funding, are prevented from accepting large single-donor contributions. At the same time the Court sustains the provision aimed at broadening the base of political support by requiring candidates to seek a greater number of small contributors, it sustains the unrealistic disclosure thresholds of $10 and $100 that I believe will deter those hoped-for small contributions. Minor parties must now compete for votes against two major parties whose expenditures will be vast. Finally, the Act's distinction between contributions in money and contributions in services remains, with only the former being subject to any limits. As Judge Tamm put it in dissent from the Court of Appeals' opinion:

[T]he classification created only regulates certain types of disproportional influences. Under section 591(e)(5), services are excluded from contributions. This allows the housewife to volunteer time that might cost well over $1000 to hire on the open market, while limiting her neighbor who works full-time to a regulated contribution. It enhances the disproportional influence of groups who command large quantities of these volunteer services, and will continue to magnify this inequity by not allowing for an inflation adjustment to the contribution limit. It leads to the absurd result that a lawyer's contribution of services to aid a candidate in complying with FECA is exempt, but his first amendment activity is regulated if he falls ill and hires a replacement.

171 U.S.App.D.C. 172, 266, 519 F.2d 821, 915 (1975). One need not call problems of this order equal protection violations to recognize that the contribution limitations of the Act create grave inequities that are aggravated by the Court's interpretation of the Act.

The Court's piecemeal approach fails to give adequate consideration to the integrated nature of this legislation. A serious question is raised, which the Court does not consider: 20 when central segments, key operative provisions, of this Act are stricken, can what remains function in anything like the way Congress intended? The incongruities are obvious. The Commission is now eliminated, yet its very purpose was to guide candidates and campaign workers — and their accountants and lawyers — through an intricate statutory maze where a misstep can lead to imprisonment. All candidates can now spend freely; affluent candidates, after today, can spend their own money without limit; yet, contributions for the ordinary candidate are severely restricted in amount — and small contributors are deterred. I cannot believe that Congress would have enacted a statutory scheme containing such incongruous and inequitable provisions. Although the statute contains a severability clause, 2 U.S.C. § 454 (1970 ed., Supp. IV), such a clause is not an "inexorable command." 21 Dorchy v. Kansas, 264 U.S. 286, 290 (1924). The clause creates a rebuttable presumption that "'eliminating invalid parts, the legislature would have been satisfied with what remained.'" Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333, 364 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring, quoting from Champlin Rfg. Co. v. Commission, 286 U.S. 210, 235 (1932)). Here, just as the presumption of constitutionality of a statute has been overcome to the point that major proportions and chapters of the Act have been declared unconstitutional, for me, the presumption of severability has been rebutted. To invoke a severability clause to salvage parts of a comprehensive, integrated statutory scheme, which parts, standing alone, are unworkable and in many aspects unfair, exalts a formula at the expense of the broad objectives of Congress.

Finally, I agree with the Court that the members of the Federal Election Commission were unconstitutionally appointed. However, I disagree that we should give blanket de facto validation to all actions of the Commission undertaken until today. The issue is not before us, and we cannot know what acts we are ratifying. I would leave this issue to the District Court to resolve if and when any challenges are brought. In the past two decades, the Court has frequently spoken of the broad coverage of the First Amendment, especially in the area of political dialogue:

[T]o assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people,

Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 484 (1957); and

[T]here is practically universal agreement that a major purpose of [the First] Amendment was to protect the free discussion of governmental affairs . . . [including] discussions of candidates . . . ,

Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214, 218 (1966); and again:

[I]t can hardly be doubted that the constitutional guarantee [of the First Amendment] has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office.

Monitor Patriot Co. v. Roy, 401 U.S. 265, 272 (1971). To accept this generalization, one need not agree that the Amendment has its "fullest and most urgent application" only in the political area, for others would think religious freedom is on the same or even a higher plane. But I doubt that the Court would tolerate for an instant a limitation on contributions to a church or other religious cause; however grave an "evil" Congress thought the limits would cure, limits on religious expenditures would most certainly fall as well. To limit either contributions or expenditures as to churches would plainly restrict "the free exercise" of religion. In my view, Congress can no more ration political expression than it can ration religious expression; and limits on political or religious contributions and expenditures effectively curb expression in both areas. There are many prices we pay for the freedoms secured by the First Amendment; the risk of undue influence is one of them, confirming what we have long known: freedom is hazardous, but some restraints are worse.

1. The particular verbalization has varied from case to case. First Amendment analysis defies capture in a single, easy phrase. The basic point of our inquiry, however expressed, is to determine whether the Government has sought to achieve admittedly important goals by means which demonstrably curtail our liberties to an unnecessary extent.

2. The 1910 legislation required disclosure of the names of recipients of expenditures in excess of $10.

3. Ironically, the Court seems to recognize this principle when dealing with the limitations on contributions. Ante at 25.

4. The record does not show systematic harassment of the sort involved in NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958). But uncontradicted evidence was adduced with respect to actual experiences of minor parties indicating a sensitivity on the part of potential contributors to the prospect of disclosure. See, e.g., District Court findings of fact, affidavits of Wertheimer ( 6) and Reed ( 8), 2B App. 736, 742. This evidence suffices when the governmental interest in putting the spotlight on the sources of support for minor parties or splinter groups is so tenuous.

5. The Court notes that 94.9% of the funds raised by congressional candidates in 1974 came in contributions of less than $1,000, ante at 26 n. 27, and suggests that the effect of the contribution limitations will be minimal. This logic ignores the disproportionate influence large contributions may have when they are made early in a campaign; "seed money" can be essential, and the inability to obtain it may effectively end some candidacies before they begin. Appellants have excerpted from the record data on nine campaigns to which large, initial contributions were critical. Brief for Appellants 132-138. Campaigns such as these will be much harder, and perhaps impossible, to mount under the Act.

6. Whatever the effect of the limitation, it is clearly arbitrary — Congress has imposed the same ceiling on contributions to a New York or California senatorial campaign that it has put on House races in Alaska or Wyoming. Both the strength of support conveyed by the gift of $1,000 and the gift's potential for corruptly influencing the recipient will vary enormously from place to place. Seven Senators each spent from $1,000,000 to $1,300,000 in their successful 1974 election campaigns. A great many congressional candidates spent less than $25,000. 33 Cong. Quarterly 789-790 (1975). The same contribution ceiling would seem to apply to each of these campaigns. Congress accounted for these tremendous variations when it geared the expenditure limits to voting population; but it imposed a flat ceiling on contributions without focusing on the actual evil attacked or the actual harm the restrictions will work.

7. Suppose, for example, that a candidate's committee authorizes a celebrity or elder statesman to make a radio or television address on the candidate's behalf, for which the speaker himself plans to pay. As the Court recognizes, ante at 24 n. 25, the Act defines this activity as a contribution and subjects it to the $1,000 limit on individual contributions and the $5,000 limit on contributions by political committees — effectively preventing the speech over any substantial radio or television station. Whether the speech is considered an impermissible "contribution" or an allowable "expenditure" turns not on whether speech by "someone other than the contributor" is involved, but on whether the speech is "authorized" or not. The contribution limitations directly restrict speech by the contributor himself. Of course, this restraint can be avoided if the speaker makes his address without consulting the candidate or his agents. Elsewhere, I suggest that the distinction between "independent" and "authorized" political activity is unrealistic and simply cannot be maintained. For present purposes I wish only to emphasize that the Act directly restricts, as a "contribution," what is clearly speech by the "contributor" himself.

8. The Court treats the Act's provisions limiting a candidate's spending from his personal resources as expenditure limits, as indeed the Act characterizes them, and holds them unconstitutional. As MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL points out, post at 287, by the Court's logic, these provisions could as easily be treated as limits on contributions, since they limit what the candidate can give to his own campaign.

9. Candidates who must raise large initial contributions in order to appeal for more funds to a broader audience will be handicapped. See n. 5, supra. It is not enough to say that the contribution ceilings "merely . . . require candidates . . . to raise funds from a greater number of persons," ante at 22, where the limitations will effectively prevent candidates without substantial personal resources from doing just that.

10. Under the Court's holding, candidates with personal fortunes will be free to contribute to their own campaigns as much as they like, since the Court chooses to view the Act's provisions in this regard as unconstitutional "expenditure" limitations, rather than "contribution" limitations. See n. 8, supra.

11. 113 Cong.Rec. 12165 (1967)

12. Brief for Appellee Attorney General and for United States as Amicus Curiae 93.

13. Id. at 94.

14. Id. at 93.

15. Such considerations have never before influenced the Court's evaluation of the risks of restraints on expression.

16. The Court's opinion demonstrates one such intrusion. While the Court finds that the Act's expenditure limitations unconstitutionally inhibit a candidate's or a party's First Amendment rights, it imposes, by invoking the severability clause of Subtitle H, such limitations on qualifying for public funds.

17. See, e.g., 26 U.S.C. §§ 9003 9007, 9033, 9038 (1970 ed., Supp. IV).

18. Cf. Terry v. Adams, 345 U.S. 461 (1953); Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944).

19. See generally remarks of Senator Gore, 112 Cong.Rec. 28783 (1966).

20. The problem is considered only in the limited context of Subtitle H.

21. Section 454 provides that, if a "provision" is invalid, the entire Act will not be deemed invalid. More than a provision, more than a few provisions, have been held invalid today. Section 454 probably does not even reach such extensive invalidation.

WHITE, J., Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part

Mr. Justice White, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

I concur in the Court's answers to certified questions 1, 2, 3(b), 3(C), 3(e), 3(f), 3(h), 5, 6, 7(a), 7(b), 7(C), 7(d), 8(a), 8(b), 8(C), 8(d), 8(e), and 8(f). I dissent from the answers to certified questions 3(a), 3(d), and 4(a). I also join in Part III of the Court's opinion and in much of Parts I-B, II, and IV.


I It is accepted that Congress has power under the Constitution to regulate the election of federal officers, including the President and the Vice President. This includes the authority to protect the elective processes against the "two great natural and historical enemies of all republics, open violence and insidious corruption," Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651, 658 (1884); for,

[i]f this government is anything more than a mere aggregation of delegated agents of other States and governments, each of which is superior to the general government, it must have the power to protect the elections on which its existence depends from violence and corruption,

the latter being the consequence of "the free use of money in elections, arising from the vast growth of recent wealth. . . ." Id. at 657-658, 667.

This teaching from the last century was quoted at length and reinforced in Burroughs v. United States, 290 U.S. 534, 546-548 (1934). In that case, the Court sustained the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, Title III of the Act of Feb. 28, 1925, 43 Stat. 1070, which, among other things, required political committees to keep records and file reports concerning all contributions and expenditures received and made by political committees for the purposes of influencing the election of candidates for federal office. The Court noted the conclusion of Congress that public disclosure of contributions would tend to prevent the corrupt use of money to influence elections; this, together with the requirement "that the treasurer's statement shall include full particulars in respect of expenditures," made it "plain that the statute as a whole is calculated to discourage the making and use of contributions for purposes of corruption." 290 U.S. at 548. Congress clearly had the power to further as it did that fundamental goal:

The power of Congress to protect the election of President and Vice President from corruption being clear, the choice of means to that end presents a question primarily addressed to the judgment of Congress. If it can be seen that the means adopted are really calculated to attain the end, the degree of their necessity, the extent to which they conduce to the end, the closeness of the relationship between the means adopted and the end to be attained, are matters for congressional determination alone.

Id. at 547-548.

Pursuant to this undoubted power of Congress to vindicate the strong public interest in controlling corruption and other undesirable uses of money in connection with election campaigns, the Federal Election Campaign Act substantially broadened the reporting and disclosure requirements that so long have been a part of the federal law. Congress also concluded that limitations on contributions and expenditures were essential if the aims of the Act were to be achieved fully. In another major innovation, aimed at insulating candidates from the time-consuming and entangling task of raising huge sums of money, provision was made for public financing of political campaigns for federal office. A Federal Election Commission (FEC) was also created to administer the law.

The disclosure requirements and the limitations on contributions and expenditures are challenged as invalid abridgments of the right of free speech protected by the First Amendment. I would reject these challenges. I agree with the Court's conclusion and much of its opinion with respect to sustaining the disclosure provisions. I am also in agreement with the Court's judgment upholding the limitations on contributions. I dissent, however, from the Court's view that the expenditure limitations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 608(c) and (e) (1970 ed., Supp. IV) violate the First Amendment.

Concededly, neither the limitations on contributions nor those on expenditures directly or indirectly purport to control the content of political speech by candidates or by their supporters or detractors. What the Act regulates is giving and spending money, acts that have First Amendment significance not because they are themselves communicative with respect to the qualifications of the candidate, but because money may be used to defray the expenses of speaking or otherwise communicating about the merits or demerits of federal candidates for election. The act of giving money to political candidates, however, may have illegal or other undesirable consequences: it may be used to secure the express or tacit understanding that the giver will enjoy political favor if the candidate is elected. Both Congress and this Court's cases have recognized this as a mortal danger against which effective preventive and curative steps must be taken.

Since the contribution and expenditure limitations are neutral as to the content of speech and are not motivated by fear of the consequences of the political speech of particular candidates or of political speech in general, this case depends on whether the nonspeech interests of the Federal Government in regulating the use of money in political campaigns are sufficiently urgent to justify the incidental effects that the limitations visit upon the First Amendment interests of candidates and their supporters.

Despite its seeming struggle with the standard by which to judge this case, this is essentially the question the Court asks and answers in the affirmative with respect to the limitations on contributions which individuals and political committees are permitted to make to federal candidates. In the interest of preventing undue influence that large contributors would have or that the public might think they would have, the Court upholds the provision that an individual may not give to a candidate, or spend on his behalf if requested or authorized by the candidate to do so, more than $1,000 in any one election. This limitation is valid although it imposes a low ceiling on what individuals may deem to be their most effective means of supporting or speaking on behalf of the candidate — i.e., financial support given directly to the candidate. The Court thus accepts the congressional judgment that the evils of unlimited contributions are sufficiently threatening to warrant restriction regardless of the impact of the limits on the contributor's opportunity for effective speech and, in turn, on the total volume of the candidate's political communications by reason of his inability to accept large sums from those willing to give.

The congressional judgment, which I would also accept, was that other steps must be taken to counter the corrosive effects of money in federal election campaigns. One of these steps is § 608(e), which, aside from those funds that are given to the candidate or spent at his request or with his approval or cooperation, limits what a contributor may independently spend in support or denigration of one running for federal office. Congress was plainly of the view that these expenditures also have corruptive potential; but the Court strikes down the provision, strangely enough claiming more insight as to what may improperly influence candidates than is possessed by the majority of Congress that passed this bill and the President who signed it. Those supporting the bill undeniably included many seasoned professionals who have been deeply involved in elective processes and who have viewed them at close range over many years.

It would make little sense to me, and apparently made none to Congress, to limit the amounts an individual may give to a candidate or spend with his approval but fail to limit the amounts that could be spent on his behalf. Yet the Court permits the former while striking down the latter limitation. No more than $1,000 may be given to a candidate or spent at his request or with his approval or cooperation; but otherwise, apparently, a contributor is to be constitutionally protected in spending unlimited amounts of money in support of his chosen candidate or candidates.

Let us suppose that each of two brothers spends $1 million on TV spot announcements that he has individually prepared and in which he appears, urging the election of the same named candidate in identical words. One brother has sought and obtained the approval of the candidate; the other has not. The former may validly be prosecuted under § 608(e); under the Court's view, the latter may not, even though the candidate could scarcely help knowing about and appreciating the expensive favor. For constitutional purposes, it is difficult to see the difference between the two situations. I would take the word of those who know — that limiting independent expenditures is essential to prevent transparent and widespread evasion of the contribution limits.

In sustaining the contribution limits, the Court recognizes the importance of avoiding public misapprehension about a candidate's reliance on large contributions. It ignores that consideration in invalidating § 608(e). In like fashion, it says that Congress was entitled to determine that the criminal provisions against bribery and corruption, together with the disclosure provisions, would not, in themselves, be adequate to combat the evil and that limits on contributions should be provided. Here, the Court rejects the identical kind of judgment made by Congress as to the need for and utility of expenditure limits. I would not do so.

The Court also rejects Congress' judgment manifested in § 608(c) that the federal interest in limiting total campaign expenditures by individual candidates justifies the incidental effect on their opportunity for effective political speech. I disagree both with the Court's assessment of the impact on speech and with its narrow view of the values the limitations will serve.

Proceeding from the maxim that "money talks," the Court finds that the expenditure limitations will seriously curtail political expression by candidates and interfere substantially with their chances for election. The Court concludes that the Constitution denies Congress the power to limit campaign expenses; federal candidates — and, I would suppose, state candidates, too — are to have the constitutional right to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in quest of their own election.

As an initial matter, the argument that money is speech and that limiting the flow of money to the speaker violates the First Amendment proves entirely too much. Compulsory bargaining and the right to strike, both provided for or protected by federal law, inevitably have increased the labor costs of those who publish newspapers, which are, in turn, an important factor in the recent disappearance of many daily papers. Federal and state taxation directly removes from company coffers large amounts of money that might be spent on larger and better newspapers. The antitrust laws are aimed at preventing monopoly profits and price-fixing, which gouge the consumer. It is also true that general price controls have from time to time existed, and have been applied to the newspapers or other media. But it has not been suggested, nor could it be successfully, that these laws, and many others, are invalid because they siphon off or prevent the accumulation of large sums that would otherwise be available for communicative activities.

In any event, as it should be unnecessary to point out, money is not always equivalent to or used for speech, even in the context of political campaigns. I accept the reality that communicating with potential voters is the heart of an election campaign, and that widespread communication has become very expensive. There are, however, many expensive campaign activities that are not themselves communicative or remotely related to speech. Furthermore, campaigns differ among themselves. Some seem to spend much less money than others, and yet communicate as much as or more than those supported by enormous bureaucracies with unlimited financing. The record before us no more supports the conclusion that the communicative efforts of congressional and Presidential candidates will be crippled by the expenditure limitations than it supports the contrary. The judgment of Congress was that reasonably effective campaigns could be conducted within the limits established by the Act, and that the communicative efforts of these campaigns would not seriously suffer. In this posture of the case, there is no sound basis for invalidating the expenditure limitations, so long as the purposes they serve are legitimate and sufficiently substantial, which, in my view, they are.

In the first place, expenditure ceilings reinforce the contribution limits and help eradicate the hazard of corruption. The Court upholds the over-all limit of $25,000 on an individual's political contributions in a single election year on the ground that it helps reinforce the limits on gifts to a single candidate. By the same token, the expenditure limit imposed on candidates plays its own role in lessening the chance that the contribution ceiling will be violated. Without limits on total expenditures, campaign costs will inevitably and endlessly escalate. Pressure to raise funds will constantly build, and, with it, the temptation to resort in "emergencies" to those sources of large sums, who, history shows, are sufficiently confident of not being caught to risk flouting contribution limits. Congress would save the candidate from this predicament by establishing a reasonable ceiling on all candidates. This is a major consideration in favor of the limitation. It should be added that many successful candidates will also be saved from large, overhanging campaign debts which must be paid off with money raised while holding public office and at a time when they are already preparing or thinking about the next campaign. The danger to the public interest in such situations is self-evident.

Besides backing up the contribution provisions, which are aimed at preventing untoward influence on candidates that are elected, expenditure limits have their own potential for preventing the corruption of federal elections themselves. For many years, the law has required the disclosure of expenditures as well as contributions. As Burroughs indicates, the corrupt use of money by candidates is as much to be feared as the corrosive influence of large contributions. There are many illegal ways of spending money to influence elections. One would be blind to history to deny that unlimited money tempts people to spend it on whatever money can buy to influence an election. On the assumption that financing illegal activities is low on the campaign organization's priority list, the expenditure limits could play a substantial role in preventing unethical practices. There just would not be enough of "that kind of money" to go around.

I have little doubt in addition that limiting the total that can be spent will ease the candidate's understandable obsession with fundraising, and so free him and his staff to communicate in more places and ways unconnected with the fundraising function. There is nothing objectionable — indeed, it seems to me a weighty interest in favor of the provision — in the attempt to insulate the political expression of federal candidates from the influence inevitably exerted by the endless job of raising increasingly large sums of money. I regret that the Court has returned them all to the treadmill.

It is also important to restore and maintain public confidence in federal elections. It is critical to obviate or dispel the impression that federal elections are purely and simply a function of money, that federal offices are bought and sold, or that political races are reserved for those who have the facility — and the stomach — for doing whatever it takes to bring together those interests, groups, and individuals that can raise or contribute large fortunes in order to prevail at the polls.

The ceiling on candidate expenditures represents the considered judgment of Congress that elections are to be decided among candidates none of whom has overpowering advantage by reason of a huge campaign war chest. At least so long as the ceiling placed upon the candidates is not plainly too low, elections are not to turn on the difference in the amounts of money that candidates have to spend. This seems an acceptable purpose and the means chosen a common sense way to achieve it. The Court nevertheless holds that a candidate has a constitutional right to spend unlimited amounts of money, mostly that of other people, in order to be elected. The holding perhaps is not that federal candidates have the constitutional right to purchase their election, but many will so interpret the Court's conclusion in this case. I cannot join the Court in this respect.

I also disagree with the Court's judgment that § 608(a), which limits the amount of money that a candidate or his family may spend on his campaign, violates the Constitution. Although it is true that this provision does not promote any interest in preventing the corruption of candidates, the provision does, nevertheless, serve salutary purposes related to the integrity of federal campaigns. By limiting the importance of personal wealth, § 608(a) helps to assure that only individuals with a modicum of support from others will be viable candidates. This, in turn, would tend to discourage any notion that the outcome of elections is primarily a function of money. Similarly, § 608(a) tends to equalize access to the political arena, encouraging the less wealthy, unable to bankroll their own campaigns, to run for political office.

As with the campaign expenditure limits, Congress was entitled to determine that personal wealth ought to play a less important role in political campaigns than it has in the past. Nothing in the First Amendment stands in the way of that determination.

For these reasons I respectfully dissent from the Court's answers to certified questions 3(a), 3(d), and 4(a). [p267]


I join the answers in Part IV of the Court's opinion, ante at 141-142, n. 177, to the questions certified,by the District Court relating to the composition and powers of the FEC, i.e., questions 8(a), 8(b), 8(c), 8(d) (with the qualifications stated infra at 282-286), 8(e), and 8(f). I also agree with much of that part of the Court's opinion, including the conclusions that these questions are properly before us and ripe for decision, that the FEC's past acts are de facto valid, that the Court's judgment should be stayed, and that the FEC may function de facto while the stay is in effect.

The answers to the questions turn on whether the FEC is illegally constituted because its members were not selected in the manner required by Art. II, § 2, cl. 2, the Appointments Clause. It is my view that, with one exception, Congress could endow a properly constituted commission with the powers and duties it has given the FEC. 1

Section 437c creates an eight-member FEC. Two members, the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, are ex officio members without the right to vote or to hold an FEC office. 2 Of the remaining six, two are appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate upon the recommendation of the majority and minority leaders of that body; two are similarly appointed by the Speaker of the House; and two are appointed by the President of the United States. The appointment of each of these six members is subject to confirmation by a majority of both Houses of Congress. § 437c(a)(1). Each member is appointed for a term of years; none can be an elected or appointed officer or employee of any branch of the Government at the time of his appointment. §§ 437c(a)(2), (3). The FEC is empowered to elect its own officers, § 437c(a)(5), and to appoint a staff director and general counsel. § 437c(f). Decisions are by a majority vote. § 437c(c).

It is apparent that none of the members of the FEC is selected in a manner Art. II specifics for the appointment of officers of the United States. The Appointments Clause provides:

[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments. 3

Although two of the members of the FEC are initially selected by the President, his nominations are subject to confirmation by both Houses of Congress. Neither he, the head of any department, nor the Judiciary has any voice in the selection of the remaining members of the FEC. The challenge to the FEC, therefore, is that its members are officers of the United States the mode of whose appointment was required to, but did not, conform to the Appointments Clause. That challenge is well taken.

The Appointments Clause applies only to officers of the United States whose appointment is not "otherwise provided for" in the Constitution. Senators and Congressmen are officers of the United States, but the Constitution expressly provides the mode of their selection. 4 The Constitution also expressly provides that each House of Congress is to appoint its own officers. 5 But it is not contended here that FEC members are officers of either House selected pursuant to these express provisions, if for no other reason, perhaps, than that none of the Commissioners was selected in the manner specified by these provisions — none of them was finally selected by either House acting alone as Art. I authorizes.

The appointment power provided in Art. II also applies only to officers, as distinguished from employees, 6 of the United States, but there is no claim the Commissioners are employees of the United States, rather than officers. That the Commissioners are among those officers of the United States referred to in the Appointments Clause of Art. II is evident from the breadth of their assigned duties and the nature and importance of their assigned functions.

The functions and duties of the FEC relate to three different aspects of the election laws: first, the provisions of the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. §§ 608-617 (1970 ed., Supp. IV), which establish major substantive limitations on political contributions and expenditures by individuals, political organizations, and candidates; second, the reporting and disclosure provisions contained in 2 U.S.C. §§ 431-437b (1970 ed., Supp. IV), these sections requiring the filing of detailed reports of political contributions and expenditures; and third, the provisions of 26 U.S.C. §§ 9001-9042 (1970 ed., Supp. IV) with respect to the public financing of Presidential primary and general election campaigns. From the "representative examples of [the FEC's] various powers" the Court describes, ante at 109-113, it is plain that the FEC is the primary agency for the enforcement and administration of major parts of the election laws. It does not replace or control the executive agencies with respect to criminal prosecutions, but, within the wide zone of its authority, the FEC is independent of executive as well as congressional control except insofar as certain of its regulations must be laid before and not be disapproved by Congress. § 438(c); 26 U.S.C. §§ 9009(c), 9039(c) (1970 ed., Supp. IV). With duties and functions such as these, members of the FEC are plainly "officers of the United States" as that term is used in Art. II, § 2, cl. 2.

It is thus not surprising that the FEC, in defending the legality of its members' appointments, does not deny that they are "officers of the United States" as that term is used in the Appointments Clause of Art. II. 7 Instead, for reasons the Court outlines, ante at 131-132, 133-134, its position appears to be that, even if its members are officers of the United States, Congress may nevertheless appoint a majority of the FEC without participation by the President. 8 This position that Congress may itself appoint the members of a body that is to administer a wide-ranging statute will not withstand examination in light of either the purpose and history of the Appointments Clause or of prior cases in this Court.

The language of the Appointments Clause was not mere inadvertence. The matter of the appointment of officers of the new Federal Government was repeatedly debated by the Framers, and the final formulation of the Clause arrived at only after the most careful debate and consideration of its place in the over-all design of government. The appointment power was a major building block fitted into the constitutional structure designed to avoid the accumulation or exercise of arbitrary power by the Federal Government. The basic approach was that official power should be divided among the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Departments. The separation of powers principle was implemented by a series of provisions, among which was the knowing decision that Congress was to have no power whatsoever to appoint federal officers, except for the power of each House to appoint its own officers serving in the strictly legislative processes and for the confirming power of the Senate alone.

The decision to give the President the exclusive power to initiate appointments was thoughtful and deliberate. The Framers were attempting to structure three departments of government so that each would have affirmative powers strong enough to resist the encroachment of the others. A fundamental tenet was that the same persons should not both legislate and administer the laws. 9 From the very outset, provision was made to prohibit members of Congress from holding office in another branch of the Government while also serving in Congress. There was little if any dispute about this incompatibility provision which survived in Art. I, § 6, of the Constitution as finally ratified. 10 Today, no person may serve in Congress and at the same time be Attorney General, Secretary of State, a member of the judiciary, a United States attorney, or a member of the Federal Trade Commission or the National Labor Relations Board.

Early in the 1787 Convention, it was also proposed that members of Congress be absolutely ineligible during the term for which they were elected, and for a period thereafter, for appointment to any state or federal office. 11 But to meet substantial opposition to so stringent a provision, ineligibility for state office was first eliminated, 12 and, under the language ultimately adopted, Congressmen were disqualified from being appointed only to those offices which were created, or for which the emoluments were increased, during their term of office. 13 Offices not in this category could be filled by Representatives or Senators, but only upon resignation.

Immediately upon settling the ineligibility provision, the Framers returned to the appointment power which they had several times before debated and postponed for later consideration. 14 From the outset, there had been no dispute that the Executive alone should appoint, and not merely nominate, purely executive officers, 15 but, at one stage, judicial officers were to be selected by the entire Congress. 16 This provision was subsequently changed to lodge the power to choose judges in the Senate, 17 which was later also given the power to appoint ambassadors and other public ministers. 18 But following resolution of the dispute over the ineligibility provision, which served both to prevent members of Congress from appointing themselves to federal office and to limit their being appointed to federal office, it was determined that the appointment of all principal officers, whether executive or not, should originate with the President, and that the Senate should have only the power of advice and consent. 19 Inferior officers could be otherwise appointed, but not by Congress itself. 20 This allocation of the appointment power, in which, for the first time, the Executive had the power to initiate appointment to all principal offices and the Senate was empowered to advise and consent to nominations by the Executive, 21 was made possible by adoption of the ineligibility provisions, and was formulated as part of the fundamental compromises with respect to the composition of the Senate, the respective roles of the House and Senate, and the placement of the election of the President in the electoral college.

Under Art. II, as finally adopted, law enforcement authority was not to be lodged in elected legislative officials subject to political pressures. Neither was the Legislative Branch to have the power to appoint those who were to enforce and administer the law. Also, the appointment power denied Congress and vested in the President was not limited to purely executive officers, but reached officers performing purely judicial functions, as well as all other officers of the United States.

I thus find singularly unpersuasive the proposition that, because the FEC is implementing statutory policies with respect to the conduct of elections, which policies Congress has the power to propound, its members may be appointed by Congress. One might as well argue that the exclusive and plenary power of Congress over interstate commerce authorizes Congress to appoint the members of the Interstate Commerce Commission and of many other regulatory commissions; that its exclusive power to provide for patents and copyrights would permit the administration of the patent laws to be carried out by a congressional committee; or that the exclusive power of the Federal Government to establish post offices authorizes Congress itself or the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate to appoint postmasters and to enforce the postal laws.

Congress clearly has the power to create federal offices and to define the powers and duties of those offices, Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 129 (1926), but no case in this Court even remotely supports the power of Congress to appoint an officer of the United States aside from those officers each House is authorized by Art. I to appoint to assist in the legislative processes.

In Myers, a postmaster of the first class was removed by the President prior to the expiration of his statutory four-year term. Challenging the President's power to remove him contrary to the statute, he sued for his salary. The challenge was rejected here. The Court said that, under the Constitution, the power to appoint the principal officers of the Executive Branch was an inherent power of the President:

[T]he reasonable implication, even in the absence of express words, was that as part of his executive power [the President] should select those who were to act for him under his direction in the execution of the laws.

Id. at 117. Further, absent express limitation in the Constitution, the President was to have unrestricted power to remove those administrative officers essential to him in discharging his duties. These fundamental rules were to extend to those bureau and department officers with power to issue regulations and to discharge duties of a quasi-judicial nature — those members of "executive tribunals whose decisions after hearing affect interests of individuals." Id. at 135. As for inferior officers such as the plaintiff postmaster, the same principles were to govern if Congress chose to place the appointment in the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, as was the case in Myers. Under the Appointments Clause, Congress could — but did not in the Myers case — permit the appointment of inferior officers by the heads of departments, in which event, the Court said, Congress would have the authority to establish a term of office and limit the reasons for their removal. But in no circumstance could Congress participate in the removal:

[T]he Court never has held, nor reasonably could hold, although it is argued to the contrary on behalf of the appellant, that the excepting clause enables Congress to draw to itself, or to either branch of it, the power to remove or the right to participate in the exercise of that power. To do this would be to go beyond the words and implications of that clause and to infringe the constitutional principle of the separation of governmental powers.

Id. at 161.

Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935), limited the reach of the Myers case. There, the President attempted to remove a member of the Federal Trade Commission prior to the expiration of his statutory term and for reasons not specified in the statute. The Court ruled that the Presidential removal power vindicated in Myers related solely to "purely executive officers," 295 U.S. at 628, from whom the Court sharply distinguished officers, such as the members of the Federal Trade Commission, who were to be free from political dominance and control, whose duties are "neither political nor executive, but predominantly quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative." Id. at 624. Contrary to the dicta in Myers, such an officer was thought to occupy "no place in the executive department," to exercise "no part of the executive power vested by the Constitution in the President," 295 U.S. at 628, and to be immune from removal by the President except on terms specified by Congress. The Commissioners were described as being in part an administrative body carrying out legislative policies and in part an agency of the Judiciary, ibid.; such a body was intended to be

independent of executive authority, except in its selection, and free to exercise its judgment without the leave or hindrance of any other official or any department of the government.

Id. at 625-626. (Emphasis in original.)

The holding in Humphrey's Executor was confirmed in Wiener v. United States, 357 U.S. 349 (1958), but the Court did not question what Humphrey's Executor had expressly recognized — that members of independent agencies are not independent of the Executive with respect to their appointments. Nor did either Wiener or Humphrey's Executor suggest that Congress could not only create the independent agency, specify its duties, and control the grounds for removal of its members, but could also itself appoint or remove them without the participation of the Executive Branch of the Government. To have so held would have been contrary to the Appointments Clause as the Myers case recognized.

It is said that, historically, Congress has used its own officers to receive and file the reports of campaign expenditures and contributions as required by law, and that this Court should not interfere with this practice. But the Act before us creates a separate and independent campaign commission with members, some nominated by the President, who have specified terms of office, are not subject to removal by Congress, and are free from congressional control in their day-to-day functions. The FEC, it is true, is the designated authority with which candidates and political committees must file reports of contributions and expenditures, as required by the Act. But the FEC may also make rules and regulations with respect to the disclosure requirements, may investigate reported violations, issue subpoenas, hold its own hearings and institute civil enforcement proceedings in its own name. Absent a request by the FEC, it would appear that the Attorney General has no role in the civil enforcement of the reporting and disclosure requirements. The FEC may also issue advisory opinions with respect to the legality of any particular activities so as to protect those persons who in good faith have conducted themselves in reliance on the FEC's opinion. These functions go far beyond mere information gathering, and there is no long history of lodging such enforcement powers in congressional appointees.

Nor do the FEC's functions stop with policing the reporting and disclosure requirements of the Act. The FEC is given express power to administer, obtain compliance with, and "to formulate general policy" 22 with respect to 18 U.S.C. §§ 608-617, so much so that the Act expressly provides that "[t]he Commission has primary jurisdiction with respect to the civil enforcement of such provisions." 23 Following its own proceedings, the FEC may request the Attorney General to bring civil enforcement proceedings, a request which the Attorney General must honor. 24 And good faith conduct taken in accordance with the FEC's advisory opinions as to whether any transaction or activity would violate any of these criminal provisions "shall be presumed to be in compliance with" these sections. 25 § 437f(b). Finally, the FEC has the central role in administering and enforcing the provisions of Title 26 contemplating the public financing of political campaigns. 26

It is apparent that the FEC is charged with the enforcement of the election laws in major respects. Indeed, except for the conduct of criminal proceedings, it would appear that the FEC has the entire responsibility for enforcement of the statutes at issue here. By no stretch of the imagination can its various functions in this respect be considered mere adjuncts to the legislative process or to the powers of Congress to judge the election and qualifications of its own members.

It is suggested, without accounting for the President's role in appointing some of its members, that the FEC would be willing to forgo its civil enforcement powers, and that, absent these functions, it is left with nothing that purely legislative officers may not do. The difficulty is that the statute invests the FEC not only with the authority, but with the duties that unquestionably make its members officers of the United States, fully as much as the members of other commissions charged with the major responsibility for administering statutes. What is more, merely forgoing its authority to bring suit would still leave the FEC with the power to issue rules and regulations, its advisory opinion authority, and primary duties to enforce the Act. Absent notice and hearing by the FEC and a request on its part, it would not appear that the Executive Branch of the Government would have any authority under the statute to institute civil enforcement proceedings with respect to the reporting and disclosure requirements or the relevant provisions of Titles 18 and 26.

There is no doubt that the development of the administrative agency in response to modern legislative and administrative need has placed severe strain on the separation of powers principle in its pristine formulation. See Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168, 191 (1881). Any notion that the Constitution bans any admixture of powers that might be deemed legislative, executive, and judicial has had to give way. The independent agency has survived attacks from various directions: that it exercises invalidly delegated legislative power, Sunshine Coal Co. v. Adkins, 310 U.S. 381 (1940); that it invalidly exercises judicial power, ibid.; and that its functions are so executive in nature that its members must be subject to Presidential control, Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935). Until now, however, it has not been insisted that the commands of the Appointments Clause must also yield to permit congressional appointments of members of a major agency. With the Court, I am not convinced that we should create a broad exception to the requirements of that Clause that all officers of the United States be appointed in accordance with its terms. The provision applies to all officers, however their duties may be classified; and even if some of the FEC's functions, such as rulemaking, are purely legislative, I know of no authority for the congressional appointment of its own agents to make binding rules and regulations necessary to or advisable for the administration and enforcement of a major statute where the President has not participated either in the appointment of each of the administrators or in the fashioning of the rules or regulations which they propound.

I do not dispute the legislative power of Congress coercively to gather and make available for public inspection massive amounts of information relevant to the legislative process. Its own officers may, as they have done for years, receive and file contribution and expenditure reports of candidates and political committees. Arguably, the Commissioners, although not properly appointed by the President, should at least be able to perform this function. But the members of the FEC are appointed for definite terms of office, are not removable by the President or by Congress, and, even if their duties were to be severely limited, they would appear to remain Art. II officers. In any event, the task of gathering and publishing campaign finance information has been one of the specialties of the officers of the respective Houses, and these same officers, under the present law, continue to receive such information, and to act as custodians for the FEC, at least with respect to the Senate and House political campaigns. They are also instructed to cooperate with the FEC. § 438(d).

For these reasons, I join in the Court's answers to certified questions 8(a), 8(b), 8(c), 8(e) and 8(f), and with the following reservations to question 8(d).

Question 8(d) asks whether § 438(c) violates the constitutional rights of one or more of the plaintiffs in that "it empowers the Federal Election Commission to make rules under the F.E.C.A. in the manner specified therein." Section 438(c) imposes certain preconditions to the effectiveness of "any rule or regulation under this section . . . ," but does not itself authorize the issuance of rules or regulations. That authorization is to be found in § 438(a)(10), which includes among the duties of the FEC the task of prescribing "rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this subchapter, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c)." The "subchapter" referred to is the subchapter dealing with federal election campaigns and the reports of contributions and expenditures required to be filed with the FEC. 27 Subsection (c), which is the provision expressly mentioned in question 8(d), requires that any rule or regulation prescribed by the FEC under § 438 shall be transmitted to the Senate or the House, or to both, as thereafter directed. After 30 legislative days, 28 the rule or regulation will become effective unless (1) either House has disapproved the rule if it relates to reports by Presidential candidates or their supporting committees; (2) the House has disapproved it if it relates to reports to be filed by House candidates or their committees; or (3) the Senate has disapproved it if the rule relates to reports by Senate candidates or their related committees.

By expressly referring to subsection (c), question 8(d) appears to focus on the disapproval requirement; but the Court's answer is not responsive in these terms. Rather, the Court expressly disclaims holding that the FEC's rules and regulations are invalid because of the requirement that they are subject to disapproval by one or both Houses of Congress. Ante at 140 n. 176. As I understand it, the FEC's rules and regulations, whether or not issued in compliance with § 438(c), are invalid because the members of the FEC have not been appointed in accordance with Art. II. To the extent that this is the basis for the Court's answer to the question, I am in agreement.

If the FEC members had been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate as provided in Art. II, nothing in the Constitution would prohibit Congress from empowering the Commission to issue rules and regulations without later participation by, or consent of, the President or Congress with respect to any particular rule or regulation or initially to adjudicate questions of fact in accordance with a proper interpretation of the statute. Sunshine Coal Co. v. Adkins, 310 U.S. 381 (1940); RFC v. Bankers Trust Co., 318 U.S. 163 (1943); Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935). The President must sign the statute creating the rulemaking authority of the agency or it must have been passed over his veto, and he must have nominated the members of the agency in accordance with Art. II; but agency regulations issued in accordance with the statute are not subject to his veto even though they may be substantive in character and have the force of law.

I am also of the view that the otherwise valid regulatory power of a properly created independent agency is not rendered constitutionally infirm, as violative of the President's veto power, by a statutory provision subjecting agency regulations to disapproval by either House of Congress. For a bill to become law, it must pass both Houses and be signed by the President or be passed over his veto. Also, "Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary . . . " is likewise subject to the veto power. 29 Under § 438(c), the FEC's regulations are subject to disapproval; but, for a regulation to become effective, neither House need approve it, pass it, or take any action at all with respect to it. The regulation becomes effective by nonaction. This no more invades the President's powers than does a regulation not required to be laid before Congress. Congressional influence over the substantive content of agency regulation may be enhanced, but I would not view the power of either House to disapprove as equivalent to legislation or to an order resolution, or vote requiring the concurrence of both Houses. 30

In terms of the substantive content of regulations and the degree of congressional influence over agency lawmaking, I do not suggest that there is no difference between the situation where regulations are subject to disapproval by Congress and the situation where the agency need not run the congressional gauntlet. But the President's veto power, which gives him an important role in the legislative process, was obviously not considered an inherently executive function. Nor was its principal aim to provide another check against poor legislation. The major purpose of the veto power appears to have been to shore up the Executive Branch and to provide it with some bargaining and survival power against what the Framers feared would be the overweening power of legislators. As Hamilton said, the veto power was to provide a defense against the legislative department's intrusion on the rights and powers of other departments; without such power, "the legislative and executive powers might speedily come to be blended in the same hands." 31

I would be much more concerned if Congress purported to usurp the functions of law enforcement, to control the outcome of particular adjudications, or to preempt the President's appointment power; but, in the light of history and modern reality, the provision for congressional disapproval of agency regulations does not appear to transgress the constitutional design, at least where the President has agreed to legislation establishing the disapproval procedure or the legislation has been passed over his veto. It would be considerably different if Congress itself purported to adopt and propound regulations by the action of both Houses. But here no action of either House is required for the agency rule to go into effect, and the veto power of the President does not appear to be implicated.

1. That is, if the FEC were properly constituted, I would answer questions 8(b), 8(C), 8(d) (see infra at 282-286), and 8(f) in the negative. With respect to question 8(e), I reserve judgment on the validity of 2 U.S.C. § 456 (1970 ed., Supp. IV) which empowers the FEC to disqualify a candidate for failure to file certain reports. Of course, to the extent that the Court invalidates the expenditure limitations of the FECA, Part I-C, ante at 39-59, the FEC, however appointed, would be powerless to enforce those provisions.

Unless otherwise indicated, all statutory citations in this part of the opinion are to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, §§ 301-311, 86 Stat. 11, as amended by the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, §§ 201-407, 88 Stat. 1272, 2 U.S.C. § 431 et seq. (1970 ed., Supp. IV).

2. References to the "Commissioners," the "FEC," or its "members" do not include these two ex officio members.

3. U.S.Const., Art. II, § 2, Cl. 2.

4. Id. Art. I, §§ 2, 3, and the Seventeenth Amendment.

5. "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers. . . ." U.S.Const., Art. I, § 2, cl. 5.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but . . . [t]he Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

§ 3, cls. 4, 5.

6. The distinction appears ante at 126 n. 162.

7. Indeed the FEC attacks as "erroneous" appellants' statement that the Court of Appeals ruled that

the FEC commissioners are not officers of the United States. Rather, it held that the grant of power to the President to appoint civil officers of the United States is not to be read as preclusive of Congressional authority to appoint such officers to aid in the discharge of Congressional responsibilities.

Brief for Appellee Federal Election Commission 16 n.19 (hereafter FEC Brief).

8. How Congress may both appoint officers itself and condition appointment of the President's nominees on confirmation by a majority of both Houses of Congress is not explained.

9. Watson, Congress Steps Out: A Look at Congressional Control of the Executive, 63 Calif.L.Rev. 983, 1042-1043 (1975).

10. U.S.Const., Art. I, § 6, Cl. 2, provides in part:

[N]o Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

See 1 M. Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, pp. 379-382 (1911) (hereafter Farrand); 2 Farrand 483.

11. 1 Farrand 20.

12. Id. at 210-211, 217, 219, 221, 222, 370, 375-377, 379-382, 383, 384, 419, 429, 435; 2 Farrand 180.

13. Id. at 487. As ratified, the Ineligibility Clause provides:

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time. . . .

U.S.Const., Art. I, § 6, Cl. 2.

14. Farrand 116, 120, 224, 233; 2 Farrand 37-38, 41-44, 71-72, 116, 138.

15. 1 Farrand 63, 67.

16. Id. at 21-22.

17. Id. at 224, 233.

18. 2 Farrand 183, 383, 394.

19. Id. at 533

20. Id. at 627.

21. C. Warren, The Making of the Constitution 641-642 (1947).

22. § 437d(a)(9).

23. § 437c(b).

24. Section 437g(a)(7) provides:

Whenever in the judgment of the Commission, after affording due notice and an opportunity for a hearing, any person has engaged or is about to engage in any acts or practices which constitute or will constitute a violation of any [relevant] provision . . . upon request by the Commission the Attorney General on behalf of the United States shall institute a civil action for relief. . . .

(Emphasis supplied.) The FEC argues that

"there is no showing in this case of a convincing legislative history that would enable us to conclude that 'shall' was intended to be the 'language of command.'"

FEC Brief 62 n. 52, quoting 171 U.S.App.D.C. 172, 244 n.191, 519 F.2d 821, 893 n.191 (1975). The contention is that the FEC's enforcement power is not exclusive, because the Attorney General retains the traditional discretion to decline to institute legal proceedings. However this may be, the FEC's civil enforcement responsibilities are substantial. Moreover it is authorized under 26 U.S.C. §§ 9010 9040 (1970 ed., Supp. IV), to appear in and to defend actions brought in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit under §§ 9011, 9041, to review the FEC's actions under Chapters 95 and 96 of Title 26, and to appear in district court to seek recovery of amounts repayable to the Treasury under §§ 9007, 9008, 9038.

25. Although the FEC resists appellants' attack on its position that it has "no general substantive rulemaking authority with regard to Title 18 spending and contribution limitations" (FEC Brief 49), it agrees "that there is inevitably some interplay between Title 2 and Title 18." (Id. at 55.) It seeks to minimize the importance of the interplay by noting that its definitions of what is to be disclosed and reported would not be binding in judicial proceedings to determine whether substantive provisions of the Act had been violated, but would simply be extended a measure of deference as administrative interpretations. Appellants' reply is the practical one that, whether the FEC's power is substantive or not, persons violating its regulations do so at their peril. To illustrate the extent to which the FEC's regulations implicate the provisions of Title 18, appellants point to the FEC's interim guidelines for the New Hampshire and Tennessee special elections, 4 Fed.Reg. 40668, 43660 (1975), and its regulations, rejected by the Senate, providing that funds contributed to and expended from the "office accounts" of Members of Congress were contributions or expenditures "subject to the limitations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 608 610, 611, 613, 614 and 615." See notice of proposed rulemaking, id. at 32951. Unless the FEC's regulations are to be given no weight in criminal proceedings, it seems plain that, through those regulations, the FEC will have a significant role in the implementation and enforcement of criminal statutes.

26. The FEC itself cannot fashion coercive relief by, for example, issuing cease and desist orders. To obtain such relief, it must apply to the courts itself or through the Attorney General.

27. The same preconditions are imposed with respect to regulations issued under the public financing provisions of the election laws. 26 U.S.C. §§ 9009 and 9039 (1970 ed., Supp. IV). No such requirement appears to exist with respect to the FEC's power to make "policy" with respect to the enforcement of the criminal provisions in Title 18 or with respect to any power it may have to issue rules and regulations dealing with the civil enforcement of those provisions. See also § 439a.

28. Section 438(c)(4) defines "legislative day." See also 26 U.S.C. §§ 9009(c)(3), 9039(c)(3) (1970 ed., Supp. IV).

29. U.S.Const., Art. I, § 7, cl. 3.

30. Surely the challengers to the provision for congressional disapproval do not mean to suggest that the FEC's regulations must become effective despite the disapproval of one House or the other. Disapproval nullifies the suggested regulation and prevents the occurrence of any change in the law. The regulation is void. Nothing remains on which the veto power could operate. It is as though a bill passed in one House and failed in another.

31. The Federalist No. 3, pp. 46469 (Wright ed.1961).

MARSHALL, J., Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part

MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

I join in all of the Court's opinion except Part I-C-2, which deals with 18 U.S.C. § 608(a) (1970 ed., Supp. IV). That section limits the amount a candidate may spend from his personal funds, or family funds under his control, in connection with his campaigns during any calendar year. See ante at 51-52, n. 57. The Court invalidates § 608(a) as violative of the candidate's First Amendment rights. "[T]he First Amendment," the Court explains, "simply cannot tolerate § 608(a)'s restriction upon the freedom of a candidate to speak without legislative limit on behalf of his own candidacy." Ante at 54. I disagree.

To be sure, § 608(a) affects the candidate's exercise of his First Amendment rights. But, unlike the other expenditure limitations contained in the Act and invalidated by the Court — the limitation on independent expenditures relative to a clearly identified candidate, § 608(e), and the limitations on over-all candidate expenditures, § 608(c) — the limitations on expenditures by candidates from personal resources contained in § 608(a) need never prevent the speaker from spending another dollar to communicate his ideas. Section 608(a) imposes no over-all limit on the amount a candidate can spend; it simply limits the "contribution" a candidate may make to his own campaign. The candidate remains free to raise an unlimited amount in contributions from others. So long as the candidate does not contribute to his campaign more than the amount specified in § 608(a), and so long as he does not accept contributions from others in excess of the limitations imposed by § 608(b), he is free to spend without limit on behalf of his campaign.

It is significant, moreover, that the ceilings imposed by § 608(a) on candidate expenditures from personal resources are substantially higher than the $1,000 limit imposed by § 608(e) on independent expenditures by noncandidates. Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates may contribute $50,000 of their own money to their campaigns, Senate candidates $35,000, and most House candidates $25,000. Those ceilings will not affect most candidates. But they will admittedly limit the availability of personal funds for some candidates, and the question is whether that limitation is justified.

The Court views "[t]he ancillary interest in equalizing the relative financial resources of candidates" as the relevant rationale for § 608(a), and deems that interest insufficient to justify § 608(a). Ante at 54. In my view, the interest is more precisely the interest in promoting the reality and appearance of equal access to the political arena. Our ballot access decisions serve as a reminder of the importance of the general interest in promoting equal access among potential candidates. See, e.g., Lubin v. Panish, 415 U.S. 709 (1974); Bullock v. Carter, 405 U.S. 134 (1972). While admittedly those cases dealt with barriers to entry different from those we consider here, the barriers to which § 608(a) is directed are formidable ones, and the interest in removing them substantial.

One of the points on which all Members of the Court agree is that money is essential for effective communication in a political campaign. It would appear to follow that the candidate with a substantial personal fortune at his disposal is off to a significant "headstart." Of course, the less wealthy candidate can potentially overcome the disparity in resources through contributions from others. But ability to generate contributions may itself depend upon a showing of a financial base for the campaign or some demonstration of preexisting support, which, in turn, is facilitated by expenditures of substantial personal sums. Thus, the wealthy candidate's immediate access to a substantial personal fortune may give him an initial advantage that his less wealthy opponent can never overcome. And even if the advantage can be overcome, the perception that personal wealth wins elections may not only discourage potential candidates without significant personal wealth from entering the political arena, but also undermine public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. 1

The concern that candidacy for public office not become, or appear to become, the exclusive province of the wealthy assumes heightened significance when one considers the impact of § 608(b), which the Court today upholds. That provision prohibits contributions from individuals and groups to candidates in excess of $1,000, and contributions from political committees in excess of $5,000. While the limitations on contributions are neutral in the sense that all candidates are foreclosed from accepting large contributions, there can be no question that large contributions generally mean more to the candidate without a substantial personal fortune to spend on his campaign. Large contributions are the less wealthy candidate's only hope of countering the wealthy candidate's immediate access to substantial sums of money. With that option removed, the less wealthy candidate is without the means to match the large initial expenditures of money of which the wealthy candidate is capable. In short, the limitations on contributions put a premium on a candidate's personal wealth.

In view of § 608(b)'s limitations on contributions, then, § 608(a) emerges not simply as a device to reduce the natural advantage of the wealthy candidate, but as a provision providing some symmetry to a regulatory scheme that otherwise enhances the natural advantage of the wealthy. 2 Regardless of whether the goal of equalizing access would justify a legislative limit on personal candidate expenditures standing by itself, I think it clear that that goal justifies § 608(a)'s limits when they are considered in conjunction with the remainder of the Act. I therefore respectfully dissent from the Court's invalidation of § 608(a).


In the Nation's seven largest States in 1970, 11 of the 15 major senatorial candidates were millionaires. The four who were not millionaires lost their bid for election.

117 Cong.Rec. 42065 (1971) (remarks of Rep. Macdonald).

2. Of course, § 608(b)'s enhancement of the wealthy candidate's natural advantage does not require its invalidation. As the Court demonstrates, § 608(b) is fully justified by the governmental interest in limiting the reality and appearance of corruption. Ante at 26-29.

In addition to § 608(a), § 608(c), which limits over-all candidate expenditures in a campaign, also provides a check on the advantage of the wealthy candidate. But we today invalidate that section, which, unlike § 608(a), imposes a flat prohibition on candidate expenditures above a certain level, and which is less tailored to the interest in equalizing access than § 608(a). The effect of invalidating both § 608(c) and § 608(a) is to enable the wealthy candidate to spend his personal resources without limit, while his less wealthy opponent is forced to make do with whatever amount he can accumulate through relatively small contributions.

BLACKMUN, J., Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part

Mr. Justice Blackmun, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

I am not persuaded that the Court makes, or indeed is able to make, a principled constitutional distinction between the contribution limitations, on the one hand, and the expenditure limitations, on the other, that are involved here. I therefore do not join Part I-B of the Court's opinion or those portions of Part I-A that are consistent with Part I-B. As to those, I dissent.

I also dissent, accordingly, from the Court's responses to certified questions 3(b), (c), and (h). I would answer those questions in the affirmative.

I do join the remainder of the Court's opinion and its answers to the other certified questions.

REHNQUIST, J., Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part

Mr Jusitice Rehnquist, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

I concur in Parts I, II, and IV of the Court's opinion. I concur in so much of Part III of the Court's opinion as holds that the public funding of the cost of a Presidential election campaign is a permissible exercise of congressional authority under the power to tax and spend granted by Art. I, but dissent from Part III-B-1 of the Court's opinion, which holds that certain aspects of the statutory treatment of minor parties and independent candidates are constitutionally valid. I state as briefly as possible my reasons for so doing.

The limits imposed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments on governmental action may vary in their stringency depending on the capacity in which the government is acting. The government as proprietor, Adderley v. Florida, 385 U.S. 39 (1966), is, I believe, permitted to affect putatively protected interests in a manner in which it might not do if simply proscribing conduct across the board. Similarly, the government as employer, Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968), and CSC v. Letter Carriers, 413 U.S. 548 (1973), may prescribe conditions of employment which might be constitutionally unacceptable if enacted into standards of conduct made applicable to the entire citizenry.

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Jackson in Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U.S. 250, 288-295 (1952), and by Mr. Justice Harlan in his dissenting opinion in Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 500-503 (1957), I am of the opinion that not all of the strictures which the First Amendment imposes upon Congress are carried over against the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, but, rather, that it is only the "general principle" of free speech, Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 672 (1925) (Holmes J., dissenting), that the latter incorporates. See Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 324-325 (1937).

Given this view, cases which deal with state restrictions on First Amendment freedoms are not fungible with those which deal with restrictions imposed by the Federal Government, and cases which deal with the government as employer or proprietor are not fungible with those which deal with the government as a lawmaker enacting criminal statutes applying to the population generally. The statute before us was enacted by Congress not with the aim of managing the Government's property, nor of regulating the conditions of Government employment, but, rather, with a view to the regulation of the citizenry as a whole. The case for me, then, presents the First Amendment interests of the appellants at their strongest, and the legislative authority of Congress in the position where it is most vulnerable to First Amendment attacks.

While this approach undoubtedly differs from some of the underlying assumptions in the opinion of the Court, opinions are written not to explore abstract propositions of law, but to decide concrete cases. I therefore join in all of the Court's opinion except Part III-B-1, which sustains, against appellants' First and Fifth Amendment challenges, the disparities found in the congressional plan for financing general Presidential elections between the two major parties, on the one hand, and minor parties and candidacies, on the other.

While I am not sure that I agree with the Court's comment, ante at 95, that "public financing is generally less restrictive of access to the electoral process than the ballot access regulations dealt with in prior cases," in any case, that is not, under my view, an adequate answer to appellants' claim. The electoral laws relating to ballot access which were examined in Lubin v. Panish, 415 U.S. 709, 716 (1974); American Party of Texas v. White, 415 U.S. 767, 780 (1974); and Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 729-730 (1974), all arose out of state efforts to regulate minor party candidacies and the actual physical size of the ballot. If the States are to afford a republican form of government, they must, by definition, provide for general elections and for some standards as to the contents of the official ballots which will be used at those elections. The decision of the state legislature to enact legislation embodying such regulations is, therefore, not in any sense an optional one; there must be some standards, however few, which prescribe the contents of the official ballot if the popular will is to be translated into a choice among candidates. Dealing thus by necessity with these issues, the States have strong interests in "limiting places on the ballot to those candidates who demonstrate substantial popular support," ante at 96. They have a like interest in discouraging "splintered parties and unrestrained factionalism" which might proliferate the number of candidates on a state ballot so as to make it virtually unintelligible to the average voter. Storer v. Brown, supra at 736.

Congress, on the other hand, while undoubtedly possessing the legislative authority to undertake the task if it wished, is not obliged to address the question of public financing of Presidential elections at all. When it chooses to legislate in this area, so much of its action as may arguably impair First Amendment rights lacks the same sort of mandate of necessity as does a State's regulation of ballot access.

Congress, of course, does have an interest in not "funding hopeless candidacies with large sums of public money," ante at 96, and may for that purpose legitimately require

"some preliminary showing of a significant modicum of support," Jenness v. Fortson, [403 U.S. 431, 442 (1971),] as an eligibility requirement for public funds.

Ante at 96. But Congress, in this legislation, has done a good deal more than that. It has enshrined the Republican and Democratic Parties in a permanently preferred position, and has established requirements for funding minor party and independent candidates to which the two major parties are not subject. Congress would undoubtedly be justified in treating the Presidential candidates of the two major parties differently from minor party or independent Presidential candidates, in view of the long demonstrated public support of the former. But because of the First Amendment overtones of the appellants' Fifth Amendment equal protection claim, something more than a merely rational basis for the difference in treatment must be shown, as the Court apparently recognizes. I find it impossible to subscribe to the Court's reasoning that, because no third party has posed a credible threat to the two major parties in Presidential elections since 1860, Congress may by law attempt to assure that this pattern will endure forever.

I would hold that, as to general election financing, Congress has not merely treated the two major parties differently from minor parties and independents, but has discriminated in favor of the former in such a way as to run afoul of the Fifth and First Amendments to the United States Constitution.