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McCutcheon v. FEC: Worse for Partisanship than Citizens United?

by Chad Peace, published

The Supreme Court has heard the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case, which has been labeled Citizens United 2 by some.

At issue is the aggregation limits placed on political contributors, which refers to the total amount of money a person can contribute to political candidates, parties, and other organizations.

Today, individuals can give to candidates only $2,600 per election, but can give a National Party committee $32,400 per year, State and Local committees $10,000 per year, or a PAC up to $5,000 per year.

The popular discussion centers on a “freedom of speech” v. “quid-pro-quo corruption” concerns; whether aggregate donation limits to political parties and political action committees are Constitutional.

Not only are limits on giving to groups (parties, PACs, and other political associations) more than 10 times greater in a year than an individual candidate can receive in an entire election cycle, but no one is even challenging those limits in this case.

And we already give special access to our electoral process by paying, with public tax dollars, for parties to hold their private primary elections, to the tune of over $500 million dollars a year.


But now, that state of our political discourse has us staking our “freedom of speech” concerns around our ability to contribute to a third party to do our political bidding for us.

No-one asks whether direct donations, with transparency, might actually increase accountability and reduce partisanship.

Wouldn’t it make sense that parties have leverage over candidates when political donations have to be funneled through their machines?

Probably why the Republican Party is the party challenging the aggregate limits as applied to organizations, and not individuals.

Find out  more information on McCuthceon v. FEC from the SCOTUSBlog.

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