The Supreme Court is apparently open for business, at least for a little while. Their agenda for the fall is to include consideration of campaign contribution limits, abortion clinic buffer zones, presidential power to make recess appointments, and public prayer at government meetings. The Roberts’ Court has set out to hear and decide about eighty cases. They’re open at least until Friday.
The case that has me ruminating this morning is McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Under current federal campaign finance law, there are two levels of limits on campaign contributions. An individual donor cannot give more than $2,600 per candidate per election. In addition to those base limits, the law sets an overall limit on the total amount that an individual can contribute to all candidates and all parties during a two-year election cycle. Right now that limit is about $120 Grand or so. The lawyers arguing for McCutcheon do not take issue with the $2,600 price, that they apparently deem to be the going rate. What they object to is the aggregate limit. As the CSMonitor puts it:”Lawyers challenging the law argue that if donors abide by the individual base limits on contributions it shouldn’t matter whether they contribute that amount to one candidate or 535 candidates.” For you math nerds that translates to $1,391,000 —but that’s beside the point maybe —limiting the quantity of purchase, argues McCutcheon and his lawyer team, is to infringe upon the well healed right. The court will hear this and decide.
I don’t hold out a lot of hope that the aggregate limit will survive. The ruling paradigm in our politics is that money is speech after all, be it free or reasonably priced. Limiting this “speech” is not something the court is wont to do. And besides, what’s the big deal? —as one appellate lawyer at a Federalist Society briefing offered: “I don’t think it’s going to have an enormous real-world impact,” Megan Brown, said recently “People get very excited about these cases in certain groups, but it [only affects] an incredibly small universe of people.”
People shouldn’t get excited. That money changing hands —as sacred as protected political speech— shouldn’t concern you. It’s the business of some other universe, not yours.