With the Supreme Court set to hear a money-in-politics case in October that some have said could be the “next Citizens United,” a diverse range of groups that includes Public Campaign and represents more than 40 million members submitted “friend of the court” (amici curiae) briefs urging the court to uphold sensible safeguards against big money-dominated politics.
The case, McCutcheon v. FEC, threatens to invalidate aggregate limits on direct contributions by a donor to candidates and political committees, which currently stands at $123,200, more than double what the average American family earns in a year and more than five times the federal poverty guideline for a family of four.
As one brief, organized by the Campaign Legal Center and signed by Public Campaign and others, states, the challengers in the case “turn a blind eye to the real-world consequences of eliminating the aggregate limits, and disregard the ways the limits continue to advance the governmental interest in preventing corruption and the appearance of corruption, as well as in deterring circumvention of the base contribution limits.”
Without this limit, the campaign finance system could become even more dominated by big money interests, with candidates able to ask donors for checks of more than $1 million to joint fundraising committees, and donors able to circumvent current limits on their ability to contribute to any single candidate.
The roughly two-dozen organizations that signed on to letters supporting the limits show the breadth of concern about money in politics: advocates for small businesses, civil rights, the environment, seniors, workers’ rights, youth empowerment, and good government. With household names like AARP, NAACP, Rock the Vote, and the Sierra Club—representing tens of millions of Americans—this broad range of communities has united to defend against a politics even more dominated by a wealthy few, where everyday people like their members are left out.
Also on Friday, a group of 85 Democratic House of Representatives members filed an amicus brief supporting the aggregate contribution limit.
Congressman John Larson, chairman of the Task Force on Election Reform, said in a statement announcing the Congressional brief, “This fall, the Supreme Court will have another opportunity to either allow special interests a new avenue in their relentless pursuit to buy-and-sell our elections, or prevent further corruption by upholding contribution limits vital to the integrity of our system.”
Let’s hope the Court stands on the side of everyday people whose voices are too often drowned out in our political system by upholding the limits.