Buckley v. Valeo

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In 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (Act), created an eight-member Federal Election Commission (Commission) to enforce the Act. The Act itself tried to limit the amount of political contributions individuals were allowed to make, and created disclosure requirements for the contributions that were made. The Act gave the Commission adjudicatory power, rulemaking power, and broad enforcement power.

The body of this authority contains eight members: two non-voting members (Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives), two members appointed by the President of the Senate, two by the Speaker of the house, and two by the President. All of the voting members have to be confirmed by the House and Congress.


The court rules that Article II, Section 2, clause 2, means that "any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States is an "Officer of the United States" and therefore must be appointed in the manner set out by the clause. The court rules that the officers of the Commission are such officers of the United States. Because their appointments are constricted by the Act, the Act is unconstitutional.

The court also clarifies that "officers of the Congress" can still be appointed by the Congress. The Court states that the powers of the Commission falls into three categories:

  1. receipt, dissemination, and investigation
  2. the task of fleshing out statutes
  3. ensuring compliance with the statute and rules

There is no question that Congress can delegate the first of these powers to a Congressional Committee. However, the second and third of these cannot be delegated a Congressional Committee without violating the constitution.