The oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Landell v. Sorrell was heard on Tuesday, February 28, 2006. The
VPIRG and State of Vermont's briefs are now posted on the NVRI website at
Supreme Court Case: Landell v. Sorrell.
On May 12, 2005, the Vermont Republican State Committee, et al, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (see
below for summary of holdings.) This petition was filed subsequent to the denial of a petition for rehearing en banc by the 2nd Circuit. The denial along with dissenting opinions can be found at
On August 18, 2004, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued its Amended Opinion in the matter of Landell et al, v. Sorrell et al,
Docket No. 909-9159. Available in PDF format:
Majority Opinion and
Dissenting Opinion. In the majority opinion for the Second Circuit, the District Court judgment issued in August 2001 was affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further
proceedings. Judge Winter dissented in part.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In conclusion, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that the provisions of Act 64 are based upon a two-year election cycle and "thus authorize the District Court
to designate an appropriate effective date for these limitations that causes the least disruption to the current election cycle."
In summary, the majority held:
that "the Supreme Court's decision in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976) does not operate as a per se bar to campaign
limits; rather, Buckley permits spending limits that are narrowly tailored to secure clearly identified and appropriately
documented compelling government interests…we remand for further findings on an aspect of the narrow tailoring inquiry…[and] we also
remand for analysis of whether treating related expenditures as candidate expenditures (§2809(b)) is constitutionally permissible."
"On remand, the District Court must determine whether the legislature might have chosen either another type of regulation or higher
limits that would still achieve the goals we sanction and yet impinge less on the First Amendment rights at stake."
that "Vermont's attempt to limit contributions from out-of-state sources (§2805(c)) is unconstitutional."
affirmed the District Court's holdings that the following provisions are constitutional: (1) the limit on contributions that
candidates may accept from individuals or political action committees; (2) the limit on contributions that political action
committees and political parties may accept from any source; (3) the definition of political parties as including state, county and
town entities; and (4) the classification of related expenditures as contributions.''
affirmed the District Court's injunction against enforcement of Act 64's limitations pending further proceedings.
and "remand for further consideration whether Act 64 regulates the ability of political action committees (PACs) to make
independent expenditures (§§2801(4_. 2905(g)), and if so, whether such regulation is constitutional."
and "remand for further findings on whether Act 64's limits on the transfer of money from national political parties to state
and local affiliates (§§2801(5), 2805(a)-(b)) imposes impermissible burdens on the operation of political parties.
"vacate the District Court's injunction against enforcement of the limitation on contributions by political parties to
candidates…[and] vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings with respect to the constitutionality of (1) limiting
candidate expenditures; (2) treating "related expenditures" of third parties as candidate expenditures; (3) restricting the ability
of PACs to make wholly independent expenditures, to the extent the Act's provisions are read to impose such restrictions; and
(4) limiting transfers of funds from national to state political party affiliates.