McCutcheon and Capping Donations

Supreme Court Decision.

This recent Supreme Court Ruling reversed a federal law that capped how much one individual can contribute, en toto, to federal candidates in any one election cycle. McCutcheon, a big time contributor, sued and overturned the law and this aggregate limit. Think about this case and decision differ or compare to Citizens United v. FEC and answer the questions that follow.

Here is an excerpt form the 5:4 opinion.  See the full majority opinion here.

Significant First Amendment interests are implicated here. Contributing money to a candidate is an exercise of an individual’s right to participate in the electoral process through both political expression and political association. A restriction on how many candidates and committees an individual may support is hardly a “modest restraint” on those rights. 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. In its simplest terms, the aggregate limits prohibit an individual from fully contributing to the primary and general election campaigns of ten or more candidates, even if all contributions fall within the base limits. And it is no response to say that the individual can simply contribute less than the base limits permit: To require one person to contribute at lower levels because he wants to support more candidates or causes is to penalize that individual for “robustly exercis[ing]” his First Amendment rights.Majority Opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts, McCutcheon v. FEC
Questions for Completion

1. Along with Citizens United, explain the trajectory of the court with regards to campaign finance over the last decade.

2. Chief Justice Roberts argued that restricting how many causes a donor can contribute to is similar to limiting how many candidates a newspaper can endorse. To what extent do you find this analogy to be valid?

3. Does this ruling make the United States more or less democratic? Why?