I had simply searched for cases that dealt with campaign promises and when they are legally binding or illegal. I have tried to find the case again because it did a good job of explaining why unkept promises where not actionable and when a campaign promise "could" be actionable civilly or criminally. Really need this again for my paper. I lost it when my laptop was upgraded. Thank you. :)


1 Answer 1


I'd guess you're looking for Berg v. Obama, 574 F. Supp. 2d 509, 529 (E.D. Pa. 2008):

The "promises" that Plaintiff identifies are statements of principle and intent in the political realm. They are not enforceable promises under contract law. Indeed, our political system could not function if every political message articulated by a campaign could be characterized as a legally binding contract enforceable by individual voters. Of course, voters are free to vote out of office those politicians seen to have breached campaign promises. Federal courts, however, are not and cannot be in the business of enforcing political rhetoric.

See also:

  • E. Side Plating, Inc. v. City of Portland, No. 3:18-cv-01664-YY, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144005, at *16 (D. Or. July 11, 2019) ("City commissioners are elected officials; therefore, the statements made by Fritz and Hales are not enforceable promises.");
  • De La Fuente v. DNC Servs. Corp., No. 18-336 (RC), 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68738, at *31 (D.D.C. Apr. 23, 2019) ("Mr. De La Fuente's expectation that the DNC's bylaw entitled him to the same resources as all other candidates is equally unreasonable.");
  • Sweigert v. Podesta, 334 F. Supp. 3d 46, 55 (D.D.C. 2018) ("Donating to an organization does not confer to a donee the right to litigate on behalf of an organization, nor does it create a legally enforceable contract.");
  • United States v. Washington, 887 F. Supp. 2d 1077, 1100 (D. Mont. 2012) ("The other public statements were not promises but rather statements of 'principle and intent in the political realm.'");
  • Hurt v. Wicker, No. 1:06-CV-241-M-D, 2 (N.D. Miss. Sep. 25, 2006) ("The issue of whether defendant has earned the right to stand for re-election as the Republican nominee for Congress in his district is a non-justiciable political matter which plaintiff improperly attempts to convert into a breach of contract action. Likewise, a Congressman's decision whether to stand for re-election is also a political matter not subject to review by the judiciary under any circumstances remotely presented by the facts alleged in this complaint.);
  • O'Reilly v. Mitchel, 85 Misc. 176, 177, 148 N.Y.S. 88, 89 (Sup. Ct. 1914) ("The student of politico-legal science may discover a fertile field for research and thought in the study of the interesting question as to whether any legal method may be devised for compelling public officials to live up to the platforms of principles upon which they were elected, but in the absence of any authority or principle justifying the relief sought the motion to overrule the demurrer to the complaint will be denied.")

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