Supreme Court to Decide Aggregate Limits Case

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Aggregate Limit

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Supreme Court today announced that it would hear McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission,challenging the constitutionality of federal law that limits the aggregate amount of money individuals may contribute to candidates, parties, and PACs. The case does not challenge the limits on contributions to any single candidate or committee.

McCutcheon argues that, because Congress has already determined a noncorrupting contribution level for candidates, parties, and political committees, giving to additional entities at that same level does not pose an additional corruption risk.

Brad Smith, Chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission said, “the case gives the Court an opportunity to clarify an important legal question: if contribution limits to individual committees and candidates prevent corruption, what additional interest justifies aggregate contributions? Are those limits nothing more than an attempt to prevent the ‘distorting’ effect of money in politics, a governmental interest that ruled for the government was explicitly rejected by Citizens United?”

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia believed it was bound by precedent, concluding that whether the Citizens United case “will ultimately spur a new evaluation of Buckley is a question for the Supreme Court, not us.”

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) is currently counsel in another challenge to aggregate limits before the Supreme Court. While that lawsuit, James v. Federal Election Commission is premised on different facts and a different legal argument, both cases nonetheless argue that the First Amendment requires the government to carefully tailor its regulation of political expression and association. Aggregate limits fail to do so, and are instead premised on an unlawful attempt to equalize political speech.

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, to whom a donor can give without limit. CCP believes that when the Court considers the arguments, it will rule in favor of Mr. McCutcheon.

For more information, contact Sarah Lee, CCP Communications Director, at 770.598.7961.

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.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.