Today oral arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission were presented to the Supreme Court, which will further examine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws. The case involves an individual who is protesting aggregate caps to campaign contributions.
Currently there are two forms of caps: Base limits and Aggregate limits. Base limits are set at a $2,600 cap per election on contributions to individual candidates for federal office. Aggregate limits are currently capped at 48,600 in a two-year election “cycle” for federal office and $74,600 to national political parties, state, and local political parties, and political action committees to total $123,200.
McCutcheon argues that limiting the number of different candidates he can support violates his First Amendment Rights to free speech and free association. This court case comes shortly after the Citizens United case where the court ruled that corporations and labor unions have the same rights to political speech as citizens, and that money is speech.
Is government for sale? The actual causal relationship between providing campaign funding and receiving crony benefits is not completely understood. The government interest in preventing such corruption must also be weighed against the legitimate free speech concerns of capping expenditures. Is there a way to deal with the problem of rich people wielding corrupting influence that would not also inhibit wider participation in the money side of politics?
The Wall Street Journal, Restoring Free Political Speech: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304906704579113830197914224.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop
The Wall Street Journal, Campaign Giving Tops High Court’s Docket: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303492504579115771522857410.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_News_5
SCOTUS Blog, Argument Preview: Campaign Finance—Again: http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/10/argument-preview-campaign-finance-again/
SCOTUS Blog, Court Returns to Campaign Finance Reform: http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/10/court-returns-to-campaign-finance-reform-tomorrows-oral-argument-in-plain-english/#more-170161
Huffington Post, McCutcheon v. FEC: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Citizens United: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/07/mccutcheon-v-fec_n_4057903.html
The Wall Street Journal, Campaign-Finance Law Divides Supreme Court: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304626104579123391302221688.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories
SCOTUS Blog, Argument Recap: How is Political Influence Bought? http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/10/argument-recap-how-is-political-influence-bought/#more-170183
Cornell University Law School, Buckley v. Valeo: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0424_0001_ZO.html