Thursday, February 21, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Critical Campaign Finance Case

The Supreme Court agreed to review a critical campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.  Businessman Shaun McCutcheon sued the FEC because he wants to give more to the Republican National Committee than the contribution ceilings permit.

At SCOTUSBlog, Lyle Denniston explains that McCutcheon could implicate reconsideration of the scheme guiding campaign finance regulation that has been in place for decades:

Since the Court’s landmark opinion in 1976 in Buckley v. Valeo, it has always given government more leeway to control contributions to candidates or political organizations than over spending by candidates or by independent political activists.  That differing constitutional treatment potentially is at stake in the new case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (docket 12-536).

This reconsideration of Buckley was left open by Citizens United and even the judges of the lower court recognized it could be overturned by the Supreme Court.  The lower court held, “Plaintiffs raise the troubling possibility that Citizens United undermined the entire contribution limits scheme, but whether that case will ultimately spur a new evaluation of Buckley is a question for the Supreme Court, not us.”

In the 2011-2012 election season, contribution limits were set at $2,500 per election to any candidate or a candidate’s campaign organization, no more than $30,800 per year to a national political party, no more than $10,000 per year to a state political party, and no more than $5,000 to any other political committee.  Those limits are at issue in McCutcheon.

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