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Supreme Court Removes Two-Year Limits on Campaign Contributions

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Last week, the Supreme Court struck down the two-year ceilings that Congress has imposed on donations by individuals to presidential and congressional candidates, parties and some — but not all — political action groups in a 5-4 decision in McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Committee. Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon (along with the Republican National Committee), sued the FEC over the two-year limits which stopped McCutcheon from giving anything to candidates or political panels once his donations had reached ceilings. He argued that curbing the number of candidates he could support infringed on his right to engage in political expression.

The majority of justices agreed with him. In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts dismissed that the caps were needed to combat corruption in politics, stating that it will be kept in check by the caps on how much each single donation can be. The opinion stated: "An aggregate limit on how many candidates and committees an individual may support through contributions is not a modest restraint at all. The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse."

The ruling will formally go into effect on April 27 and only applies to federal elections. The current per-donation limits the Court left intact are $2,600 per election to a candidate (with primary and general elections treated separately), $32,400 per year to a national party committee, $10,000 per year to a state or local party committee and $5,000 per year to a regular political action committee (but that cap does not apply to "Super PACs" that do not give money to candidates). The fundraising limits associated with political action committees like NRMCA’s CONCRETEPAC will not be changed.

What the Court struck down were these two-year ceilings that have been operating during 2013 and 2014: $48,600 to federal candidates and $74,600 to political committees. Of that $74,600, no more than $48,600 can be donated to state and local party committees and PACs.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Fox at or 240-485-1156.

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