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Supreme Court to hear campaign donor case Oct. 8, rally planned in D.C.


The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC on Oct. 8, and activists will be outside the court to speak out against lifting limits in contributions to political campaigns.

In the McCutcheon case, the Court will decide whether to strike down caps on how much money an individual can contribute directly to campaigns.

Last September, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee challenging the limit on individual contributions. The plaintiffs had contended the limits were unconstitutionally low and not supported by a sufficient governmental interest.

The election law imposes separate limits on the amounts that individuals may contribute to federal candidates and other political committees. Some of these limits are indexed for inflation. Currently, an individual may contribute up to $2,500 per election to federal candidates, up to $30,800 per calendar year to a national party committee and up to $5,000 per calendar year to any non-party political committee.

Additionally, the law imposes an overall limit on the aggregate amount individuals may contribute in a two-year period. 

McCutcheon wanted to contribute more than the biennial limit permits, and the RNC wanted to receive contributions from individuals like McCutcheon that would exceed the aggregate limits.

The plaintiffs challenged both the aggregate limit on candidate contributions and the aggregate limit on other contributions as violating the First Amendment. They asked for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the FEC from enforcing the aggregate limits.

The district court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction and granted the FEC’s motion to dismiss.
The appeals process has led to the Supreme Court, which in 2010, in the Citizens United decision, opened the way to unlimited corporate spending in campaigns.

The rally on Oct. 8 will take place at the court building, 1 First St. NE, Washington, D.C., at 9:30 a.m. The scheduled speakers include the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, of North Carolina NAACP; U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland; Larry Cohen of the Communications Workers of America; Phil Radford of Greenpeace USA; Marge Baker of the People For the American Way; Blair Bowie of US PIRG; Liz Kennedy of DEMOS; Mary Boyle of Common Cause; Josh Silver of Represent.Us; Matthew Segal of Our Time; Steve Cobble of Free Speech For People and David Borris of Main Street Alliance.

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