Today the Supreme Court hears arguments in a campaign finance case you could call the sequel to Citizens United, the blockbuster case that opened the door to unlimited independent campaign spending by unions and corporations. This sequel picks up the spending theme with new characters — not businesses, but individuals.
The title is McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The main character, Shaun McCutcheon, is an Alabama businessman out to buck the system. He wants to eliminate the $123,200 cap on how much he can give federal candidates and political committees every two years.
“This is a very important First Amendment, fundamental free speech case,” he says. “It’s about your right to spend your money however you choose on as many candidates as you choose.”
McCutcheon isn’t contesting the base limit on how much you can give a single candidate. But he does want to fund more of them.
Tara Malloy is senior counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, which filed a friend of the court brief supporting the aggregate limits. She says if the justices question not just overall limits, but all contribution limits, we could see “a sort of bombshell decision that would probably revolutionize how our elections are funded and by extension who wields power over our candidates and elected officials.”
It’s the corruptive potential of that power that’s sure to be debated today.