In this friend-of-the-court brief, CCP argues that McCutcheon presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to clarify the standard of review for laws regulating contribution limits. Since the foundational case of Buckley v. Valeo in 1976, the Court has mandated a “rigorous standard of review,” but the application of that review has been inconsistent. Most troubling, lower courts have shown a marked deference to the pronouncements of Congress.
The McCutcheon brief argues that Congress left no record as to how BCRA’s aggregate contribution limits actually combat political corruption. Because there is no substantive legislative record justifying those limits, the rationale for judicial deference to Congress collapses. And by deferring to incumbent legislators, courts risk allowing Congress – intentionally or not – to create a system benefitting incumbents. Moreover, the brief argues that deference should be based on expertise, and there is little reason to believe that legislators actually possess expertise in the area of campaign finance regulation.