A three-judge court will hear a challenge of a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that prohibits foreign nationals from making campaign contributions.
Judge Ricardo Urbina of Washington's federal trial court on Jan. 7 said the three-judge court—which is allowed through the procedures of the act—will be limited to the challenge to the statute and not the underlying implementing regulation. FEC lawyers opposed the convening of a three-judge court to hear the case.
The two plaintiffs, Benjamin Bluman and Dr. Asenath Steiman, who live and work in New York, sued the Federal Election Commission in October in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Bluman, a Sidley Austin associate and citizen of Canada, and Steiman, a dual citizen of Canada and Israel, want to contribute to campaigns. More background is here.
Attorneys for Bluman and Steiman argue the prohibition on campaign contributions violates the First Amendment. The attorneys, including Jones Day associate Warren Postman, requested a three-judge panel review the case and declare the provision unconstitutional.
Urbina said in his order Friday that if the three-judge court strikes down the disputed provision as unconstitutional, then no other law would block Steiman and Bluman from making campaign contributions. FEC lawyers filed court papers last month urging Urbina to dismiss the suit. The plaintiffs' lawyers are expected to file a response later this month.