Supreme Court case could eliminate the few campaign spending limits Citizens United left behind

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 13:00 EDT
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The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could affect the historic Citizens United verdict. According to the Political Wire blog, the Republican National Committee and one wealthy Alabama donor will argue before the court that, while donors are limited to giving no more than $2,500 directly to any candidate per election cycle, they believe that to impose an overall limit to the amounts that can be given to candidates, PACs and political parties combined is unconstitutional.

Donor Shaun McCutcheon of McCalla, Alabama and the RNC believe that it is unconstitutional to prevent McCutcheon from donating more than $46,200 to political candidates and $70,800 to political committees and PACs. The Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against McCutcheon, hence the case’s arrival at the Supreme Court.

Rick Hasen of the Election Law Blog wrote on Tuesday morning, “A ruling in this case could have important implications not only on the issue itself, but on the broader question whether the Court will change the standard for judging the constitutionality of limits on contributions, an issue the Court expressly declined to address in Citizens United.”

The 2010 Citizens United verdict ruled that private donors could give unlimited amounts of money to so-called super PACs without ever having to disclose their affiliations with the groups to the public at large. As a result, a torrent of so-called “dark money” poured into the 2012 election, much of it to no avail.

“Turns out some of the smart money wasn’t so smart after all when it came to making political bets,” wrote the Sunlight Foundation in its roundup of the 2012 election. Dark money groups like GOP rainmaker Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the election, only to see their candidates lose in nearly every race they backed.

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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