Posts Tagged ‘supreme court’

Court to Take Up Campaign Money…Again

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

LAST TUESDAY, the Supreme Court agreed to consider a challenge to campaign contribution limits imposed by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The limits in question are the ceilings – adjusted for inflation – that donors cannot exceed in a two-year election cycle. SCOTUSblog explains:

The two-year ceiling … — and this is what the new appeal is challenging – is set at $117,000 overall. That is broken down into $46,200 to a candidate for federal office and $70,800 to non-candidate entities, including national political parties and state political parties, and non-party committees. That second amount was restricted in that no more than $46,200 could be given to a state party or a non-candidate committee.

The plaintiffs are Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama Republican who was itching to donate $8,200 more than the two-year maximum, and the Republican National Committee (RNC). The case is appropriately titled Shaun McCutcheon, et al. v. Federal Election Commission, and is expected to be decided during the Court’s next term.

To be sure, there’s no telling how the Court will rule. It will certainly make a decision on the two-year ceiling, but it may also abstract the issue and revisit contribution limits generally. This is because the rationale behind the constitutionality of these limits has been debilitated in the last 30 years, the most notable instance being the unprecedented 2010 decision  in Citizens United v. FEC.

Below are the ’11-’12 election cycle contribution limits**, with the “biennial limit,” or two-year cap, in red.

For a compelling debate on the issue of  money in politics, see here.  For a summary and recorded oral arguments of Buckley v. Valeo, the ’76 decision upholding the constitutionality of contribution limits, see here.  For the Citizens case, see here.  For Knox v. SEIU, which decided on union money used for political contributions, see here.

Individual may give

To each candidate or candidate committee per election

To national party committee per calendar year

To state, district & local party committee per calendar year

To any other political committee per calendar year (1)

Special Limits

$2,500*

$30,800*

$10,000
(combined limit)

$5,000

$117,000* overall biennial limit:

  • $46,200* to all candidates
  • $70,800* to all PACs & parties (2)

National Party Committee may give

$5,000

No Limit

No Limit

$5,000

$43,100* to Senate Candidates per campaign (3)

State, District & Local Party Committee
may give

$5,000
(combined limit)

No Limit

No Limit

$5,000
(combined limit)

No Limit

PAC (multicandidate)(4) may give

$5,000

$15,000

$5,000
(combined limit)

$5,000

No Limit

PAC (not multicandidate) may give

$2,500*

$30,800*

$10,000
(combined limit)

$5,000

No Limit

Authorized Campaign Committee may give

$2,000 (5)

No Limit

No Limit

$5,000

No Limit

**Chart available at www.FEC.gov