The U. S. Supreme Court will open its new term in October with another blockbuster case involving campaign financing.
McCutcheon v. FEC (called “Citizens United II” by some), scheduled for argument on Oct.8, involves a challenge to limits on individual donor contributions. In 2012, the overall contribution limit for a single donor in the 2012 election cycle was $70,800 to all party committees and $46,200 to all federal candidates.
Conservative Alabama activist Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee want to have lots more money flowing into elections and have asked the Court to overrule years of precedent upholding such limits.
Here’s a little history on the regulation of contributions and a warning on just why this case — even more than Citizens United — is such a threat to democracy,courtesy of this opinion piece in today’s Politico:
In the wake of Watergate, Congress in 1974 enacted comprehensive new campaign finance laws that included limits on individual contributions to candidates and an overall limit on the total amount an individual could give to all federal candidates and parties.
The Supreme Court in 1976 in Buckley v. Valeo explicitly upheld the constitutionality of the overall contribution limit, as well as the individual contribution limits.
Since then, the Supreme Court has never struck down a federal contribution limit. Instead, the court has relied repeatedly on Buckley to hold that large contributions create opportunities for corruption and therefore can be subject to limits consistent with the First Amendment.
We’ll have more on this and other cases queued for argument in the new term in the coming weeks.