By Benjamin Goad - 04/06/14 12:48 PM EDT
The prevailing plaintiff in last week’s mammoth Supreme Court campaign finance decision on Sunday hailed the ruling as a victory for individual rights.
Fresh off his successful challenge of overall campaign contribution limits, Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon took to the airwaves to defend his position amid liberal warnings that the ruling would serve only to inject more money into politics.
“I think this is an issue about independent, private people exercising free speech and, regardless of economic status, all Americans are entitled to free speech,” McCutcheon said during a appearance on NBC’s "Meet the Press."
Appearing opposite McCutcheon was Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, who called on Congress and the states to overrule the high court.
“What we really need is a constitutional amendment to sweep away what the Supreme Court has done and make it possible for ‘we the people’ to exercise some sensible control over how our elections are run,” Weissman said.
The case, called McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission, centered on aggregate contribution limits — the total amount donors can contribute to federal campaigns and party committees in an election cycle.
Five of nine justices concluded the regulations, which previously held individual donors to around $123,000 per election cycle, impinge on individual First Amendment protections. Limits remain for how much a donor may give directly to a single candidate, party or some political action committees (PAC).
“It’s about your right to support as many candidates, committees and PACs as you choose,” said McCutcheon, a GOP backer.
But Weissman pointed to figures showing that only a few hundred individuals contributed the maximum amount under previous regulations. Those wealthy donors will now be able to spend millions more in a single election cycle, he said.
“They’re gonna do it and they’re going to expect something back in return,” Weissman said. “Those people have this strangle hold over how the process works and everybody else is left out of the game. “