The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law issued a statement today in advance of the Supreme Court’s October 8 oral argument in McCutcheon v. FEC. The case challenges federal aggregate contribution limits — the total any one donor can contribute to all candidates, party committees, and PACs. The Brennan Center filed a brief defending the constitutionality of aggregate limits earlier this year.
“Our Founders feared corruption. They did not want government beholden to narrow, elite interests,” said Michael Waldman, President of the Brennan Center. “Aggregate limits are exactly the type of protections the Founders envisioned. This case is clear. These limits are constitutional. The Supreme Court has said so countless times. Striking them down would be extreme. It would risk massive, spreading government corruption.”
With federal aggregate limits in place, the maximum amount one donor can directly contribute in an election cycle is $123,200. If the Supreme Court struck down the limits, a single politician could solicit more than $3.5 million from one donor, and donors could give more than $7 million to both parties in a single federal election cycle. This would dramatically raise the cost of access to elected officials, silencing the voices of millions of average Americans and giving a few wealthy donors unprecedented influence over legislators — all at a time when the vast majority of Americans already think their elected representatives are too beholden to big donors.
Brennan Center experts Michael Waldman and Lawrence Norden are available to comment on the case. Read Norden’s recent op-eds for MSNBC and U.S. News & World Report. See more of our work on money in politics.