It is that second level of regulation that is being challenged.
Mr. McCutcheon wants to know why, if he is restricted to contributing only a limited amount of money to each candidate and each political committee, he is also restricted in the total amount of money he can spend in support of political causes and candidates.
In addition to McCutcheon, the Republican National Committee is also a plaintiff in the case. The Republican Party argues that it would like to accept larger contributions from McCutcheon and others like him.
If Congress’s justification for imposing the contribution limits was to prevent quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of corruption, then the individual contribution limits should satisfy that government interest, McCutcheon’s lawyers argue.
In effect, if a $2,500 contribution is not corrupting to one or three or five candidates, what is the government’s justification for blocking a would-be contributor from giving $2,500 to a larger number of candidates?
Under the current law, a contributor is restricted from giving the statutory maximum to more than 18 candidates. McCutcheon and his lawyers believe that restriction is an unconstitutional restraint on his right to engage in political speech.
A three-judge panel at the US District Court for the District of Columbia rejected McCutcheon’s challenge and upheld the campaign-finance restrictions last year. The judges noted that the aggregate limits help prevent the evasive channeling of funds by those seeking to circumvent the base contribution limits.
The three-judge panel said it would decline second-guessing the limits set by Congress. And it said that ultimately questions in the case could only be answered by the Supreme Court.