SCOTUS McCutcheon Decision Helps Political Parties

RNC helps insure victory for free speech

The Republican National Committee (RNC) was co-Plaintiff /Appellant in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC, the First Amendment case that Democrats and their liberal media mouthpieces are hyperventilating about this week.  We congratulate the RNC on helping insure victory for free speech.

Here are some excerpts from various sources that will help explain what was at issue and the importance of the ruling.

James Bopp Jr., lead attorney for the RNC explains the decision:

The U.S. Supreme struck down federal “aggregate limits” on how much an individual may spend on otherwise legal contributions in a two-year election cycle to federal candidates, political parties, and political action committees (“PACs”). The case is McCutcheon v. FEC.

For example, though (previously) an individual may legally give $5,200 to each candidate in a two year election cycle, the aggregate limit restricts his total contributions to candidates to $48,600. Thus, an individual may give the full legal amount to only nine candidates.

Also struck down was an aggregate limit of $74,600 to all political parties and PACs, of which no more than $48,600 could go to all PACs and state political parties. In the alternative, all $74,600 could go to the three national political committees of each political party.

The Court found no government interest justifying aggregate limits. No anti-corruption interest justifies them because that interest is already addressed by “base limits,” which restrict how much an individual may give to a particular candidate, political party, or PAC. For example, Congress eliminated the quid-pro-quo corruption risk by limiting an individual’s contribution to a candidate to $2,600 per election.

And there is also no anti-circumvention interest because other provisions of the federal campaign finance law prevents a particular candidate from receiving a contribution in excess of $5,200 from a particular donor. So the aggregate limits serve no constitutionally permissible purpose.

From the Heritage Foundation:

While the Court still believes it is acceptable for Congress to restrict how much money an individual can contribute to a specific candidate in order to avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption, it held that it is unconstitutional to restrict how much you can give in total to different candidates. As the Court said, “the government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

Center for Competitive Politics on why McCutcheon benefits political parties

The law (previous to McCutcheon) only allows an individual to contribute $32,400 to a national political party committee and $5,000 to a PAC, but also imposes a biennial sublimit of $74,600 on all such contributions. So an individual can give the maximum legal contribution to the Democratic National Committee, and to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but if the individual does so, he or she can’t give the otherwise legal maximum to the Democratic National Congressional Committee or the $10,000 maximum allowed for his or her state party committee.

This sets the party committees up as competitors to each other for limited funds, driving up their fundraising costs and making them less relevant compared to Super PACs.

Center for Competitive Politics on why McCutcheon’s elimination of aggregate caps helps overcome incumbent advantages

The real reason for the aggregate limit is probably pretty simple. It helps the incumbents who wrote the law. Think about it for a minute.

As of September 25, 2013, the Cook Political Report rated 84 House and Senate races as competitive. This means a citizen, who, for example, wants to help every Republican or Democrat in a competitive race with a maximum contribution, cannot. That contributor would only be able to support nine candidates to the legal maximum, or barely 10% of the competitive races, if he or she donates in both the primary and general election campaigns. As such, challengers feel the pinch of the aggregate cap more than incumbents. Another major source of challenger funding are the party committees, and as already noted, the aggregate caps hurt the parties.

Center for Competitive Politics  on why McCutcheon helps freedom of the press (while allowing citizens and candidates to get around liberal big media news dominance).

Individuals are capped at giving maximum support to 18 campaigns. Congress has yet to pass a law placing newspapers or the media under a similar limit. They can give an editorial endorsement – certainly worth much more than $2,600 – to as many candidates as they want. There is nothing special about being a newspaper publisher or editor that entitles a person to more influence than a doctor, a small business owner or a successful architect. Indeed, the principle ultimately threatens freedom of the press. If Congress can set an arbitrary limit on the influence of individuals, what would prevent it from also being able to set a limit on the influence of newspaper owners, publishers and editors?

From Max McGuire writing at Patriot Update  synthesizing Citizens United and McCutcheon

People routinely paraphrase the First Amendment as a right to “free speech.” The text, however, protects much more than just speech. It reads,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (emphasis added)

While McCutcheon is certainly a “free speech” issue, I propose that the latter portion of the First Amendment provides a better understanding of problem. I propose that donating to a campaign or a PAC is a form of peaceful assembly that directly petitions the government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment doesn’t just protect my right to stand up. It also protects my right to peacefully assemble with like-minded individuals for the purposes of enacting political change. The idea that this assembly can or should be done absent any monetary expenditure is ludicrous. Citizens United and McCutcheon isn’t about millionaires or billionaires… it is about everyone. It is about protecting every individual’s right to engage in the political process in every lawful capacity, free from government control. The Liberals are afraid that when we figure out how to organize and use crowdsourcing techniques to translate individual frustration into tangible political results, we will be unstoppable.

Partial list of organizations and personages supporting as amicus or commenting favorable on the McCutcheon decision:

Republican National Committee

James Madison Center for Free Speech

Committee for Justice

American Civil Rights Union

Cause of Action Institute

Institute for Justice

Cato Institute

Downsize DC Foundation

Tea Party Leadership Fund

Mitch McConnell

National Republican Senate Committee

Thomas Jefferson Center For The Protection of Free Expression and the Media Institute

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty

Center for Competitive Politics

Newt Gingrich

Heritage Foundation

more listings to come     R Mall

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