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Supreme Court: Is new campaign finance case another 'Citizens United'? (+video)

Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments Tuesday over whether certain limits on individuals' campaign contributions are justified in the wake of the Citizens United decision.

Supreme Court is back in session: What's on the docket
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In 2010, the US Supreme Court sent shockwaves through the community of campaign finance reformers when it handed down its decision in the Citizens United case.

Now, nearly four years later, the justices are set to hear oral argument on Tuesday in a new case that some analysts warn could become “the next Citizens United.”

At issue in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (12-536) are aggregate contribution limits that restrict the total amount of money an individual can give a candidate and committees during a two-year election cycle.

Supporters of the limits say they are necessary to prevent crafty contributors from circumventing other campaign finance restrictions to funnel huge amounts of money from one donor to one candidate.

Opponents of the limits say they are unnecessary and lack any constitutional justification in the wake of the high court’s Citizens United decision.

The 5-4 opinion in Citizens United v. FEC declared that corporations and unions have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money on independent issue advertisements during election season.

In reaching that decision, the high court’s conservative wing jettisoned the underlying rationale for such regulations – that government could limit the political speech of some to ensure a level political playing field for all.

Instead, the conservative justices said the only justification for congressional regulation of campaign contributions and expenditures was to prevent quid-pro-quo corruption or the appearance of such corruption.


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