McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

Update 4:  Check out our brief on state responses to the Court’s ruling in McCutcheon.

Update 3:  Check out our analysis of which states are impacted by the decision.

Update 2:  The Supreme Court sides with freedom, striking down the overall limit. You can read the opinion here.

Update:  The transcript of oral argument can be found here.


The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the biennial contribution limits case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, October 8th.

The suit challenges the limits governing how much an individual may contribute in total to all party committees, PACs, and candidates in a two-year election cycle. For the 2014 election cycle, individuals are limited to contributing an overall amount of $74,600 to party committees and PACs, and $48,600 to federal candidates.

These restrictions exist in addition to contribution limits for individual candidates, PACs, and parties. When these two limits are combined, the overall number of candidates that donors can give the maximum allowable individual contributions to is 18.

The plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, believes that if contributing the maximum amount to 18 candidates is not corrupting, what is so different about contributing the maximum amount to 19 or 20 candidates that Congress is justified in limiting his First Amendment rights? After all, the Supreme Court has already upheld individual contribution limits as an adequate method with which to prevent corruption.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court agreed with McCutcheon. In a win for freedom of association, the Court struck down the aggregate limits. You can find the opinion here.

The Commentary

On The Case

The Arguments

You can access IFS’s handout on our amicus brief here, our amicus brief here, our handout “Good for Incumbents, Bad for the First Amendment” here, and our handout “The McCutcheon $3.6 Million Straw Man” here.

Notable Amicus Briefs

Motions and Briefs

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