Skip to comments.Supreme Court Strikes Limit on Number of Political Contributions
Posted on 04/02/2014 9:16:53 AM PDT by Jim Robinson
April 2, 2014
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
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Supreme Court Strikes Limit on Number of Political Contributions
Today, the U.S. Supreme struck down federal aggregate limits on how much an individual may spend on otherwise legal contributions in a two-year election cycle to federal candidates, political parties, and political action committees (PACs). The case is McCutcheon v. FEC.
For example, though an individual may legally give $5,200 to each candidate in a two year election cycle, the aggregate limit restricts his total contributions to candidates to $48,600. Thus, an individual may give the full legal amount to only nine candidates.
Also struck down was an aggregate limit of $74,600 to all political parties and PACs, of which no more than $48,600 could go to all PACs and state political parties. In the alternative, all $74,600 could go to the three national political committees of each political party.
The Court found no government interest justifying aggregate limits. No anti-corruption interest justifies them because that interest is already addressed by base limits, which restrict how much an individual may give to a particular candidate, political party, or PAC. For example, Congress eliminated the quid-pro-quo corruption risk by limiting an individuals contribution to a candidate to $2,600 per election.
And there is also no anti-circumvention interest because other provisions of the federal campaign finance law prevents a particular candidate from receiving a contribution in excess of $5,200 from a particular donor. So the aggregate limits serve no constitutionally permissible purpose.
Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (one of two McCutcheon plaintiffs) comments: Todays 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 says: 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 doesnt?
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 FECs 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.
The case briefing is at http://www.jamesmadisoncenter.org/cases/42-mccutcheon-fec.html. The opinion is at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/slipopinions.aspx?Term=13.
James Bopp, Jr. served as counsel of record for Plaintiff/Appellant Republican National Committee and was their lead counsel in the United States Supreme Court. He and his law firm represented all parties, including McCutcheon, in the District Court and in filing the successful appeApril 2, 2014al to the Supreme Court. They created the legal analysis on which the Supreme Court based its decision, which was set out in their briefs for the RNC. This case builds on Citizens United v. FEC and FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, prior Supreme Court cases the law firm handled, that are central to the Courts reaffirmation of First Amendment liberty in the political-speech arena.
Won’t this apply to that Dinesh D’Souza case where he gave too much money to a candidate?
A ‘get out of jail free’ card for all politicians !>?
Good news. But this doesn’t necessary mean a bonanza for the RNC and other GOPe fundraising arms. It may boost the amount of contributions individual conservative candidates receive from some liberty minded wealthy individuals.
Yeah. Maybe Obama will pardon him.
Wont this apply to that Dinesh DSouza case where he gave too much money to a candidate?
I don’t think this applies to contributions to individual candidates, just removes aggregate limits on contributions to multiple candidates.
If it irritates the Left, it must be a good ruling.
Personally with the system as it is today...I really believe that we could get better candidates by simply drawing a name out of a box. Anyone interested in running! Put your name in the box. A random draw and there you have your new official.
It is sad that things have gotten so bad that I would even think that. But the way it works today is that the only chance you have of getting elected is to spend a lot of money. And the only way to get that kind of money is to take it from those who are in game of corrupting the system with money. And those who take their money are well vetted to be scum before a dime is handed to them.
“Tempering polarization?” Wow. The polarizing patriotic Americans who believe the Founding Fathers were onto something amazing when they rebelled against government tyranny must be tempered by those moderate open-minded limp-wristed fence sitters in the Republican Party.
Now I think it halted the corrupt practices whereby politicians could buy votes, and prevented the creation of an informal oligarchy in which unofficial ties of money and family were combined with the power of political office (see Chicago).
Maybe they were smarter than we thought.
In addition, such practices are of little import where you have limited government, because then all state power is so limited that there's little to suffer from a corrupt government, and you probably have less corruption because there's little for private parties to gain from corrupting the political sphere.
If government had only the authority and power as described in the Constitution, far fewer citizens would be so concerned with who runs it.
It’s only when government is given the power to control every aspect of our lives that we worry about who’s running it.
Time will tell but my initial take on the benefit of throwing more money at the Parties and politics is not as positive. The increasing amount of money going into politics mostly goes into the pockets of the media. Instead of adding money to the system I’d prefer seeing more accountability with mandatory sentencing of corrupt pols and bureaucrats (kind of like one strike you’re out) for those who take quid pro quos or operate outside the Constitution.
This decision is against the interests of conservatives.
It will increase the ability of the super rich to continue to pervert the GOP into backing suicidal causes like amnesty and gay marriage.
The truth is that conservatives would much stronger politically now if McCain-Feingold were the law of the land.
Too many conservatives want to hoist themselves on their own petrards.
Like the Iraq war, No Child Left Behind, the Wall Street bailout and NSA domestic eavsdropping?
Where can we find the clause in the Constitution that empowers the federal government to restrict how much a man can spend on anything he chooses?
We are facing the total collapse of our civilation if the power of the billionaires over our political system is not broken. That’s the highest principal.
If conservatives don’t wake up and smell the coffee on these kinds of issues soon, the Democrats will get their act together and come up with some kind of liberal populist New Deal type program ala FDR and dominate the country for a generation or two, just like what happened back in that era.
Do we want more Soros style, globalist, open borders money going to GOPe efforts to smother consevatives? Because that exactly what this ruling will lead to.
We would all benefit mightily if the federal government would restrain itself only to the areas enumerated and intended for it by the Constitution, and there’d be a lot less room for mischief. If you want to really make a difference, repeal the 17th amendment and allow the state legislatures to appoint their senators as the founders designed and intended.
Save our constitution by throwing it out? No thanks.
You’re arguning that we can’t restrict campaign spending because the Constitution doesn’t say we can. The same line of reasoning applies to 90% of the things gov’t does, yet the Supreme court has no interst in striking down the income tax etc.
Why go down with the ship on this one?
The constitution does not empower the federal government to restrict free speech. In fact, it prohibits it from doing so. If I wish to spend a hundred dollars, a thousand dollars, a hundred thousand dollars or even a billion dollars if I had it on making my opinion known, that is my constitutional right.
We the people benefit when the government is restricted and the people are not.