That narrowing of the law opened doors for other potential legal challenges seeking to undermine the broader campaign-finance system. That’s where the McCutcheon case comes in.
The lead plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon of Alabama, is challenging a part of the campaign-finance law that restricts the total amount he can contribute during a two-year election cycle to $117,000.
The law restricts the amount he can give to each candidate ($2,500), to national party political committees ($30,800), state party political committees ($10,000), and other political committees ($5,000).
But that is only one level of regulation. Congress enacted a second level of campaign finance restrictions by imposing an overall limit ($117,000) on how much money can be spent by a contributor in each of the four restricted areas.
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.