Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The McCutcheon Case Reax: A Victory for Free Speech

Below are a few reactions to the Supreme Court decision for free speech and striking down so-called aggregate contribution limits in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission

—U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following statement today after the Supreme Court struck down limits on overall campaign contributions to candidates, political parties and political action committees. McConnell had filed an amicus brief, which was argued on his behalf by counsel, in the case, Shaun McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

“The Supreme Court has once again reminded Congress that Americans have a Constitutional First Amendment right to speak and associate with political candidates and parties of their choice. In Shaun McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, the court did not strike down individual contribution limits to candidates, political action committees or parties. But the court did recognize that it is the right of the individual, and not the prerogative of Congress, to determine how many candidates and parties to support.  Let me be clear for all those who would criticize the decision: It does not permit one more dime to be given to an individual candidate or a party -- it just respects the Constitutional rights of individuals to decide how many to support.”

The named plaintiff in the case, Shaun McCutcheon, response is excerpted below:
Today the United States Supreme Court took a stand in favor of our Constitutional Freedom of Speech as codified in our First Amendment.  First Amendment Free Speech enables us to support candidates for public office who share our views.  While I understand some base limits on the dollar amount of single contributions, limits to the overall number of candidates, parties and committees are nothing more than unnecessary limits to 1st amendment freedom.  The Supreme Court has reaffirmed the unconstitutionality of aggregate limits.

With the ruling, we continue to chip away at the long entrenched status quo from the grassroots - a status quo that has kept challengers, better ideas, and new entrants to the political arena mostly locked out.  Ensuring that citizens are able to contribute to multiple candidates or causes who share their views only provides further support to a system in which "We the People" hold the ultimate reins of power.

I commend the Supreme Court for their decision to defend our freedom.

Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (the “other” McCutcheon plaintiff) commented:

“Today’s decision is an important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse. I am pleased that the Court agreed that limits on how many candidates or committees a person may support unconstitutionally burden core First Amendment political activities. When free speech is allowed to flourish, our democracy is stronger.”

James Bopp, Jr., lead attorney for RNC in the case and former RNLA Vice President for Election Education stated:

“This is a great triumph for the First Amendment. A robust republic requires free speech and association, which means no limits on how many candidates an individual may support with a legal contribution. Congress allows contributions to nine candidates, but not ten. How could giving to candidate number ten cause any corruption if giving to candidates one through nine doesn’t?”

“This is also a great victory for political parties, who have been disadvantaged recently by the rise of super-PACs.  Political parties serve vital purposes, such as tempering polarization, and this is a step in the right direction to re-empower them,” adds Bopp.

Furthermore, says Bopp: “The Court also rejected the FEC’s ‘wild hypotheticals’ about corruption that suggest fanciful scenarios that are otherwise illegal under current federal law. First Amendment rights cannot be suppressed by mere speculation or a vivid imagination.”

RNLA Chair Randy Evans summed up the effect of the decision:

“The implications for the upcoming Senate and House elections cannot be understated based on the Supreme Court’s decision.  Rather than have to limit the candidates they support, Americans can now support as many Senate and House candidates as they want along with all three of the national political organizations.”

The case briefing is at oral argument of the case is here.  The ruling is available here.  

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