Justices to hear appeal of individual donation limits

By | February 20, 2013

Justices to hear appeal of individual donation limits

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider taking another step toward dismantling campaign finance laws, potentially freeing wealthy donors to give as much as they want in any election cycle and raising the possibility that it could overturn limits that apply to individual candidates as well.

In its landmark Citizens United decision, the court ruled in 2010 that corporations, unions and individuals could spend unlimited sums on campaign ads so long as they are independent of the candidates and political parties. That triggered the creation of so-called “super PACs,” which can raise and spend huge sums on politics, so long as they are ostensibly independent of a candidate or party.

On Tuesday the court moved to a different arena: that of limits on the sum individuals can contribute directly to candidates and parties.

Fearing the undue influence of very wealthy donors, Congress in the Watergate era set a limit on how much an individual could donate in one election. This limit has been adjusted for inflation and upheld by the courts, at least so far.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from an Alabama donor and the Republican National Committee (McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission), which contends the total contribution limit of $123,200 per election cycle is “unconstitutionally low.”

Some commentators said the justices could go further and reexamine a 1976 decision that upheld limits on contributions per candidate. Under current law, individuals may give no more than $2,500 to a federal candidate running for office, up to $30,800 a year to the national political committees and $10,000 to state parties.

“We’re now witnessing the demolition of our campaign finance laws, brick by brick,” said Daniel Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University. “This pattern of demolishing piecemeal is almost certain to continue.”

He and others said the limit on total contributions is particularly vulnerable.

Super PACs have already created an avenue for wealthy donors to give unlimited amounts to independent political action committees. By striking down the limit on total donations to candidates and parties, the court would be giving individuals the option of donating money to a party to be spread among its candidates, rather than to a supposedly independent super PAC.

“By removing aggregate limits on party giving, McCutcheon would be a step in equalizing the role of parties with that of so-called super PACs,” said Brad Smith, a former FEC chairman and chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, which opposes the campaign funding limits.

Supporters of the current law called the court’s action troubling. “If the current aggregate contribution limits were to be struck down, 1- or 2- or even 3 million dollars in contributions could easily be funneled by a single donor to his or her party and candidates,” said Tara Malloy, counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, which supports campaign finance regulation.

Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign finance reform advocacy group Democracy 21, said striking down the total limits on contributions would be a “radical action by a radical court.”.


Just when you thought undue influence could not get any worse, the Supreme Corporate Court leaps into action, taking countless worthless American lives with a smoking pen.

0 thoughts on “Justices to hear appeal of individual donation limits

  1. Fred Killer

    The very idea that ANY campaign donor could be “ostensibly independent of a candidate or party” is utterly absurd and a contradiction in terms.

    It’s also grossly insulting to those of us with two halves of a brain to rub together.

    The patently fraudulent use of the English language in this deceptive manner should be self-evident to anyone capable of reading and understanding the statement.

    Who the hell are these unbelievably stupid morons who say these things in all seriousness?

    Apologies to morons everywhere. Even you aren’t that dumbed down.

    Clearly then, it’s yet another mind-bendingly cynical attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.

    There should be a law against lawyers, politicians and judges.

    Natural law would have them strung up in public.

    It may seem barbaric and medieval but it’s the reason we’re so ‘civilised’ today.

    Fear is a great control method and it works both ways. WE OUTNUMBER THEM.

  2. j carlin

    if campaign donations and lobby funding
    were donated to a worthy cause
    we could clean up our side of the street
    (what a concept)

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