Next Citizens United? McCutcheon Supreme Court Case Targets Campaign Contribution Limits
WASHINGTON — The next big campaign finance case to go before the Supreme Court began in February 2012 in the grand ballroom at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel during the “Ronald Reagan Banquet” at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Alabama electrical engineer and budding political donor Shaun McCutcheon broached a problem in conversation with conservative election lawyer Dan Backer, who one day earlier had led a CPAC panel on rolling back campaign finance laws in which he predicted that campaign contribution limits would soon rise.
McCutcheon had recently learned there were overall federal campaign contribution limits on what a single donor could give during a two-year election cycle. He voiced his annoyance to Backer and wondered if he could just ignore the aggregate limits — something that a few dozen donors wound up doing, whether deliberately or inadvertently, in the 2012 election.
“He could tell I didn’t like ‘em, so he said we could challenge and it would go all the way to the Supreme Court,” McCutcheon recalled in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I didn’t really believe him.”
A little more than a year later, McCutcheon, now joined by the Republican National Committee, is bringing the biggest campaign finance case before the Supreme Court since the controversial 2010 Citizens United decision. If the justices rule in their next term to toss the overall limits, it would mark the first time the Supreme Court had found a federal contribution limit unconstitutional and would open the door for even more money to flood the political system.