Tuesday, May 27, 2014

McCutcheon Speaks on His Landmark Case

Shaun McCutcheon, the successful plaintiff in McCutcheon v. FEC, wrote a powerful op-ed last week defending the Supreme Court’s decision as Senate Democrats continue to criticize the ruling. Shaun McCutcheon is an Alabama small business owner in the field of electrical engineering who wanted to donate more than the campaign aggregate limits permitted. Those who attend this year’s RNLA Annual Seminar in Las Vegas will have the distinct privilege of hearing Mr. McCutcheon speak in-depth on his experiences.

McCutcheon’s piece comes after Democratic senators joined together to promote a constitutional amendment that would enable Congress to directly regulate campaign donations and expenses, as discussed in this earlier blog. McCutcheon says, “In their eagerness to permit federal and state governments to regulate campaign finances, including limitations on political activity, these ‘speech police’ contend that they do not intend to restrain freedom of the press.” However, McCutcheon points out that in reality, “[t]he proposed constitutional amendment would significantly impair the First Amendment’s free-speech rights, which the Supreme Court has diligently sought to protect.”

McCutcheon highlights Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion quoting, “We have made clear that Congress may not regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.”

McCutcheon compares the proposed amendment to Congress’ failed imposition of Prohibition saying that, “Our Bill of Rights deserves better.” Echoing Ranking Rules Committee Member Pat Robert’s statements on the Senate floor last week, McCutcheon argues that politicians should not amend the Constitution in an attempt to silence their critics.

He goes on to say, “It’s hard to escape the irony that many leaders of both parties have welcomed the Court’s ruling on my challenge. They moved quickly and privately to alert their contributors that the ‘aggregate’ ceilings have been removed, though the individual contribution limits that were enacted in 2002 remain in effect.”

McCutcheon concludes by saying, “When I decided to file my claim about the constitutionality of a federal law, I took a crash course in federal law and the courts as I began what initially seemed a steep challenge. That was hard and serious work. I ultimately prevailed. It wasn’t the theatrical showboating that has been on display in the Senate. . . . Those who have created the campaign-finance mess in recent years should be the last to dictate restrictions of our freedoms. Nor should they impose new rules designed to protect their reelection.”

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