CURATED BY Andrew Prokop
2014-04-11 16:12:01 -0400
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On April 2, 2014, the Supreme Court announced its ruling in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, the latest in a series of contentious decisions striking down limits on campaign finance.
At issue in McCutcheon was a law capping overall combined giving to federal candidates — no individual was permitted to give more than $48,600 in any one election cycle. (Individuals are allowed to spend much greater sums independently, but not to hand it over to the candidates themselves.) There is also a cap of $74,600 each year on contributions to all federal PACs and party committees.The justices' 5-4 ruling said that these caps were unconstitutional.
In the case, businessman Shaun McCutcheon argued that the cap violated his right to freedom of speech. McCutcheon gave money to several Congressional candidates during the 2012 elections, and he wanted to give to several more — but he was limited by that $48,600 cap.
In past rulings on campaign finance, the Supreme Court has held that spending money on elections is an exercise of free speech, and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The court has attempted to balance this right against concerns about the possibility of corruption or "its appearance." In McCutcheon, the court found that "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."
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