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Supreme Court Campaign Donation Decision Expected

PHOTO: It's expected the U.S. Supreme Court will rule next week on a campaign finance case that could eliminate limits on the number of federal office candidates a donor could support. Credit: Microsoft Images
PHOTO: It's expected the U.S. Supreme Court will rule next week on a campaign finance case that could eliminate limits on the number of federal office candidates a donor could support. Credit: Microsoft Images
February 18, 2014

BALTIMORE - A decision about campaign donations and "free speech" is expected next week from the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involves limits on donations from individuals to candidates for federal office and their parties. The current limit is $123,000, and those working to get "money out of politics" point out that's twice the national median income.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the libertarian Cato Institute favor an end to all restrictions on political donations. Trevor Burrus, research fellow at Cato's Center for Constitutional Studies, explained that position.

"I do not think the danger of protecting the voice of the little guy is something the federal government, or any government, should be involved in," he declared. "It's not a First Amendment concern that there are people out there who speak louder than other people and have more influence."

Emma Boorboor, democracy associate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, countered that the current overall limit of more than $100,000 "is plenty" already.

"Absent this limit, one wealthy donor would be permitted to contribute more than $3.5 million to a single party's candidates and party committees in one election cycle."

In the Supreme Court case, McCutcheon vs. the Federal Elections Commission, Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon claimed his First Amendment rights are violated when he can't give $2600 donations to as many parties and candidates for federal office as he pleases. Boorboor said she hopes the court rules against him.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD