On January 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C., heard oral arguments in Nader v Federal Election Commission, 12-5134. Back in 2004, various units of the Democratic Party (both state and national) and their allies spent millions of dollars in a massive attempt to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot in as many states as possible. These campaign expenditures were never reported to the FEC. Nader asked the FEC to investigate this apparent violation of the campaign finance laws, but the FEC stalled for years and then said it would not even ask for a response.
After the FEC said it would do nothing, Nader sued the FEC, but the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the FEC, even though the opinion acknowledged that the FEC had broken the law when it didn’t even ask various state Democratic Parties to respond to the complaint. The U.S. District Court said that was “harmless error.”
In the U.S. Court of Appeals, three days before the hearing, the panel of judges had asked both sides to file supplemental briefs on the issue of whether a candidate, such as Ralph Nader, even has standing to sue the FEC when the candidate is in his position. Nader argues that he certainly has informational standing, because if the D.C. Circuit remands the matter back to the FEC and tells the FEC to investigate, the information gained would be useful to Nader’s current active lawsuit in Maine state court against the Democratic Party for damages. The three judges are Karen Henderson, Thomas Griffith, and A. Raymond Randolph. All three judges took a very lively interest in the case and asked many questions.