… the argument in McCutchen is that it makes no sense to have this artificial divide between “issue” advocacy and candidate advocacy—that is, to allow unlimited donations for “issue” advocacy (e.g., PACs) while retaining the limitation on donations directly to parties or candidates. Everyone, including me, expects that the 5-4 majority will strike down that distinction and say that the so-called First Amendment grounds for striking down McCain-Feingold in Citizens United—speech is money—regarding limitations on “issues” advocacy pertains equally to the limitations on donations directly to parties and candidates. (bolding mine)
In what may be Act 2 in the decline and fall of campaign funding laws, the Supreme Court appears poised to lift the lid on the total amount the wealthy can give directly to all candidates and political parties.
Increasingly, the money that funds election races for Congress and the presidency comes from a small sliver of the very rich, what the Sunlight Foundation called the “elite class that serves as gatekeepers of public office in the United States.” The nonpartisan group has tracked how a growing share of election money comes from the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans.
In the first major case of its new term, the court could give those donors even more clout with lawmakers and their parties. The issue is whether federal limits, not on contributions to individual races but on how much a donor can give to all candidates for Congress or party committees in a particular election cycle, violate the right of free speech.
On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court will take up an appeal from the Republican National Committee, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, who say contributions should be treated as “core political speech.”