Federal appeals court rules against FEC in free speech case

Federal appeals court rules against FEC in free speech case

A federal appeals court ruled against a Federal Election Commission attempt to ban a political committee from including the name of a candidate on its websites or projects.

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The nation’s second most powerful court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, ruled that a political committee that supported Mike Huckabee’s unsuccessful run for the White House was entitled to the preliminary injunction it requested to block the Federal Election Commission from enforcing its ban.

The DC circuit said the restriction, when applied to Pursuing America’s Greatness (PAG), is a content-based ban on free speech that likely violated the First Amendment.

The case centers on the website and Facebook page PAG named “I like Mike Huckabee.”

Afraid the name would violate FEC restrictions, PAG asked the lower court to issue a preliminary injunction to keep the rules from being enforced. The court, however, denied that motion.

In a 3-0 decision Tuesday, the D.C. circuit reversed that decision and remanded the case back to the lower court despite the FEC’s argument that PAG lacks a “continuing interest in the case.”

The agency said PAG can now use the former Arkansas governor’s name freely because he suspended his presidential campaign in February. The D.C. Circuit disagreed.

“Gov. Huckabee is not the only candidate that PAG hopes to support this cycle,” Judge Thomas Griffith said in writing the court's opinion. “Rather, PAG intends to use the names of candidates still running for federal office in the titles of several other websites and Facebook pages.”