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Supreme Court Must Uphold Aggregate Campaign Contribution Limits

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the Brennan Center explained how striking down aggregate contribution limits would allow wealthy donors unfettered access to and influence over elected officials, mirroring the pattern of donations to Super PACs.

July 25, 2013

Today, the Brennan Center for Justice submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. FEC, a case challenging the federal aggregate contribution limits — the total any one donor can contribute to candidates, party committees, and PACs.

“Without aggregate limits,” the brief reads, a “system of effectively unlimited contributions would permit a tiny class of donors to wield vastly disproportionate influence over our elected representatives, encouraging the control of government by faction that has been feared and resisted since the founding of our government.” The brief explains further: “Without aggregate contribution limits in place, contributions to political committees and candidates would mirror the pattern of donations to super PACs. Overwhelmingly large contributions to candidates and parties from a handful of sources—solicited directly by federal candidates and officeholders—would thus become the norm.”

Under federal law, the current aggregate contribution limits total $123,200. If the Supreme Court were to strike down the limits, a federal candidate or officeholder could solicit more than $3.5 million from a single donor, and donors could give more than $7 million to both parties in a single federal election cycle. If the Court abolished the aggregate limits, it would allow wealthy donors unfettered access to and influence over elected officials, and pave the way to eliminating the campaign finance laws that have long stood as a bulwark against government corruption.

Senior Counsel Adam Skaggs is available for comment on the case. Brennan Center Board member Daniel F. Kolb is counsel of record on the brief. See more of our work on money in politics.

For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Erik Opsal at or 646–292–8356.