Justices eye restriction on individual's overall donation to political campaigns
WASHINGTON — The very wealthy could play a much greater role in funding federal candidates and political parties if the Supreme Court rules that a key campaign finance restriction adopted after Watergate is unconstitutional.
Under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the court has junked a number of election spending limits as improper restrictions on political expression — perhaps most dramatically with its 2010 Citizens United decision, which wiped out the ban on corporate election spending.
A bold and broad decision by the court in one of its first cases of the new term, Shaun McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which the justices are to hear on Tuesday, could overturn decades of precedent about the remaining power the government has to limit contributions to candidates and parties.
The current case, brought by Shaun McCutcheon, a businessman from Hoover, Ala., and the Republican National Committee, involves a restriction that many Americans are probably unaware of and even fewer could afford to violate: the limit on the overall amount that one person may give during a two-year election cycle to federal candidates, political parties and committees.
That limit is $123,200, including a $48,600 cap on total candidate contributions. If the court sides with McCutcheon, party leaders could set up a joint fundraising committee with their presidential nominee, congressional candidates and state affiliates to accept nearly $3.7 million from an individual in each election cycle, defenders of the limits say.
“A system in which an individual can provide millions of dollars — potentially in response to direct solicitations from the president and members of Congress — to finance parties and their candidates would substantially replicate the Watergate-era and soft-money systems that resulted in well-documented instances of corruption and apparent corruption,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the court in a brief.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Virus, pests blamed for Kan. death
- Former headmaster Wheeler of Delaware prep school convicted of dealing in child porn
- Ariz. begins giving licenses to young illegals
- Federal appeals court upholds ban on N.C. abortion law
- Moody’s lowers Met Opera rating
- Judge says Ariz. sheriff’s challenge of immigration plan better left for Congress
- Milwaukee officer won’t be charged in fatal shooting
- N.Y. GOP lawmaker to plead guilty to federal tax fraud
- Georgia prosecutor Yates tapped for No. 2 post in Justice Department
- Bush officials gave CIA wide latitude on interrogation tactics
- New York City subways slowly upgrading from 1930s-era technology