Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman, teamed with the Republican National Committee to challenge a federal law limiting him and other political donors to $123,200 in contributions to federal candidates and party committees in a single election cycle.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in April 2014 that these aggregate limits violate McCutcheon’s First Amendment right to free speech. The majority decision retained limits on donations to a single candidate, currently $5,200 ($2,600 each for a primary and general election), but said the law cannot restrict the number of candidates to whom a donor can contribute. With the overall contribution limits eliminated, an individual donor who elects to give the maximum to every presidential, House and Senate candidate and party committee could spend up to $3.6 million per election cycle. And all of that money could be solicited by a single candidate, who would have a powerful incentive to follow the donor’s wishes on legislation and other matters.