What the Justices said in today's McCutcheon Oral Argument: Aggregate Limits Likely to Fall, But Not Clear If Standard of Review Will Change

by - October 08, 2013

-SCOTUS Blog Overview:

Issue: (1) Whether the biennial limit on contributions to non-candidate committees, 2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(3)(B), is unconstitutional for lacking a constitutionally cognizable interest as applied to contributions to national party committees; and (2) Whether the biennial limits on contributions to non-candidate committees, 2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(3)(B), are unconstitutional facially for lacking a constitutionally cognizable interest; and (3) Whether the biennial limits on contributions to non-candidate committees are unconstitutionally too low, as applied and facially; and (4) Whether the biennial limit on contributions to candidate committees, 2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(3)(A), is unconstitutional for lacking a constitutionally cognizable interest.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission : SCOTUSblog

 -Rick Hasen rounds up some links:

Early Reports on McCutcheon Oral Argument: Agreggate Limits Likely to Fall, But Not Clear If Standard of Review Will Change

Early Reports on McCutcheon Oral Argument: Agreggate Limits Likely to Fall, But Not Clear If Standard of Review Will Change | Election Law Blog

 -Associated Press quotes John Roberts:

The Supreme Court appeared likely Tuesday to throw out caps on some contributions by the biggest individual donors to political campaigns. The court's conservative justices voiced repeated skepticism about overall limits on what individuals may give in a two-year federal election cycle. Chief Justice John Roberts, possibly the pivotal vote in the case, said that telling an individual he can give the legal maximum of $2,600 per election to only a handful of candidates for Congress "seems to me a very direct restriction" on First Amendment rights.

High court leery of campaign contribution limits

-Scalia says aggregate limits "sap the vitality of political parties" and encourage "drive-by PACs":

Justice Antonin Scalia said that aggregate limits have a "consequence, to sap the vitality of political parties" and encourage "drive-by PACs." He also noted that with the explosion in independent electoral spending, the aggregate limits are not "stopping big money in politics." As previously pointed out by campaign finance watchdogs, the court could accept McConnell's arguments, but still defer to a future case any direct ruling on the base contribution limits. This is what Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter calls the "grenade" in the McCutcheon case.

McCutcheon v. FEC: Supreme Court Skeptical Of Campaign Contribution Limits

-Alito says the $3.5 million figure was based on "wild hypotheticals":

On Tuesday, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the more than $3.5 million figure mentioned by Verrilli and advanced by liberal justices was based on “wild hypotheticals” and would require a level of coordination either unlikely or illegal. Justice Antonin Scalia said even that figure is not so impressive: “I don’t think $3.5 million is a heck of a lot of money” compared with the billions of dollars spent on federal campaigns. But Justice Elena Kagan said that if congressional leaders are allowed to solicit such contributions, those who can afford to pay will receive “a very, very special place at the table.”

Supreme Court skeptical of limits on federal campaign contributions - The Washington Post

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