RNC urges Supreme Court to strike campaign-finance limits

The campaign-finance suit is already one of the highest-profile cases of the Supreme Court’s next term, which begins in October.

The RNC is not challenging limits on how much an individual donor can give to one campaign, but rather how much he or she can donate, in total, over a two-year election cycle.

Individual donors cannot donate more than $74,600 to political committees, such as the RNC, in a two-year period. Contributions to individual candidates are capped at $48,600, meaning one donor could only give the maximum donation to nine candidates per cycle.

The RNC said in its brief that the court should strike down aggregate limits because they infringe on donors’ First Amendment rights but don’t serve an appropriate and “narrowly tailored” government interest.

“The aggregate limits no longer serve any legitimate purpose. They burden the First Amendment rights of individuals without constitutional justification. They limit how much money candidates and political parties may receive from individuals, while super-PACs and advocacy groups may raise unlimited sums for their political purposes,” said James Bopp, Jr., lead attorney for RNC.

Congress passed aggregate limits in the wake of Watergate, in an effort to guard against political corruption. But the RNC’s brief argues that limiting donations to party committees doesn’t help prevent corruption.

“Only if a large contribution is actually received by a particular candidate is the quid-pro-quo risk directly implicated,” the brief states.

And though limiting donations to specific candidates might help prevent corruption, the brief argues, candidate A is no more likely to be corrupted by one of his donors just because that donor also gave to candidate B.

“Thus, the aggregate limit is overbroad as to the anti-corruption interest,” the brief says. “It is merely a prophylaxis-on-prophylaxis layer atop the limits on contributions to and by candidate committees that already eliminate a quid-pro-quo risk.”


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