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United States v. National Committee for Impeachment

By October 30, 1972

In United States v. National Committee for Impeachment, 469 F.2d 1135 (2nd Cir. 1972) the application of section 301(f) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to a two-page advertisement that National Committee for Impeachment placed in The New York Times, titled “A Resolution to Impeach Richard M. Nixon as President of the United States”, was challenged. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the application was inappropriate, stating:

[T]he Government fails to point to a shred of evidence in the legislative history of the Act that would tend to indicate Congress meant to go so far. Any organization would be wary of expressing any viewpoint lest under the Act it be required to register, file reports, disclose its contributors, or the like. On the Government’s thesis every little Audubon Society chapter would be a “political committee,” for “environment” is an issue in one campaign after another. On this basis, too, a Boy Scout troop advertising for membership to combat “juvenile delinquency” or a Golden Age Club promoting “senior citizens’ rights” would fall under the Act. The dampening effect on first amendment rights and the potential for arbitrary administrative action that would result from such a situation would be intolerable.