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The Supreme Court And Campaign Finance Limits, Again

The High Court and blowing the lid off campaign contributions.

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, as the court heard arguments on campaign finance. The Supreme Court is tackling a challenge to limits on contributions by the biggest individual donors to political campaigns. (AP)

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, as the court heard arguments on campaign finance. The Supreme Court is tackling a challenge to limits on contributions by the biggest individual donors to political campaigns. (AP)

In 2010, the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in the Citizens United case blew the lid off corporate and union spending on American politics.  That spending surged, and has changed our nation’s political life.  Tilted it further toward big money.  Yesterday, the high court was looking at big money and politics again.  This time, the court could blow a lid off individual political contributions.  Just 1200 wealthy Americans currently max out, hitting those limits.  The complaint is, that’s an offense to their free speech.  This Supreme Court may agree.  Up next On Point:  money politics and the high court, again.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Robert Barnes, Supreme Court correspondent for The Washington Post. (@scotusreporter)

Richard Briffault, professor of constitutional law at Columbia University and expert on campaign finance law. (@ColumbiaLaw)

Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21, a non-profit that advocates for transparency in government and campaign finance reform. (@FredWertheimer)

Shaun McCutcheon, plaintiff in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, CEO of Coalmont Electrical Development Company in McCalla, AL.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Supreme Court Skeptical of Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions — “The chief justice seemed to be looking for a way for the court to lift the aggregate ban on candidate contributions but keep a separate restriction on the amount given to political parties and committees.Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said that lifting the limits in the way proposed by Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee would allow an individual to contribute more than $3.5 million, rather than the current limit of $123,000.”

NPR: Supreme Court Hears Another Challenge To Campaign Finance Law — “McCutcheon could spend any amount he wants to by giving to independent groups that have proliferated since Citizens United. These groups raise millions of dollars to spend on candidate elections, but they do so independently and are not supposed to coordinate with the candidate campaigns. McCutcheon, however, doesn’t want to give to independent groups; he wants to give directly to candidates and the Republican Party.”

SCOTUSBlog: How is Political Influence Bought? — “If the Supreme Court really does not understand how money moves around in American politics, how can it fashion constitutional rules to prevent abuses?  That seemed to be the most penetrating question that hung over the one-hour hearing Tuesday on the latest dispute over campaign finance.  The answer seemed to be that the Court is not really sure about the former, but it still is going to try to do the latter.”

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