Appeal Filed in Biennial Contribution Limit Case

CONTACT: Sarah Lee, Communications Director, 770.598.7961

ALEXANDRIA, VA — The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) today announced that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court has been filed in the lawsuit challenging one of the aggregate contribution limits in federal campaign finance laws.

The case concerns Virginia James, who seeks to give contributions directly to candidates up to the overall biennial aggregate limit of $117,000.  However, under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), better known as “McCain-Feingold,” she may only contribute $46,200 of that amount, in aggregate, directly to candidates.  The rest must be contributed to PACs and party committees.

According to CCP Legal Director Allen Dickerson, James is not challenging the overall $117,000 limit, but rather wishes to give the entirety of her contributions to candidates directly, instead of being forced to act through PACs and other political organizations.

“Ms. James wishes to associate directly with candidates, without having to use intermediaries like PACs or party committees. That is her right under the First Amendment – but it is also a better approach, from an anti-corruption point of view, than the one demanded by Congress,” said Allen Dickerson, CCP’s legal director.

Using the same BCRA procedure by which the Supreme Court heard Citizens United v. FEC, Dickerson and his legal team are arguing that the US District Court committed two major errors in dismissing James’s case: First, it claimed that there is no overall aggregate limit on campaign contributions.  As noted in the appeal, “This holding is contrary to the plain language of BCRA, the FEC’s regulations implementing that Act, and the legislative history of BCRA itself.”  Second, the court held, “for the first time and without referencing any authority, that contributions directly to candidate committees pose the same risk of circumvention as do much larger contributions to PACs and, especially, party committees.”

The appeal can be found here.

The lawsuit was originally filed on August 31, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  The complaint can be found here.  The appeal was filed after the October 31 dismissal of her case by a three-judge panel.


The Center for Competitive Politics promotes and defends the First Amendment’s protection of political rights of speech, assembly, and petition. It is the only organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.







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