Common Cause, Allies Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Campaign Contribution Caps

A lawsuit challenging caps on donations to federal candidates and political committees invites a new era of corruption in American politics, Common Cause and other government watchdog groups asserted today.

In a “friend of the court” brief, authored by legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center and filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, the groups argue that a ruling lifting the “aggregate limit” on donations would permit a single donor “explicitly seeking favors” to funnel more than $3.6 million to a party and federal candidates in just one election cycle. Candidates would be free to solicit such contributions, it adds.

Each donor could pump millions more into the election through donations to political action committees, the brief added.

The Republican-backed lawsuit, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, does not challenge the existing $2,600 limit on donations to a single candidate or other caps on individual gifts to a party organization or political action committee.

But it asserts that thanks to other changes in federal election law, the $123,200 cumulative cap on donations to federal candidates and committees in a single election cycle is no longer needed to prevent corruption.

That argument, Common Cause and the other watchdog groups countered, turns “a blind eye to the real world consequences of eliminating the longstanding aggregate limits. and disregard(s) the ways the limits continue to advance the governmental interest in preventing corruption and the appearance of corruption.”

The high court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for Oct. 8.

In addition to Common Cause, groups joining in the brief filed Thursday include the Campaign Legal Center, AARP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the League of Women Voters of the United States, Progressives United and Public Campaign.