Government Ethics

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Limits on Federal Contributions

April 02, 2014

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In an opinion issued earlier today (McCutcheon et al. v. Federal Election Commission), the Supreme Court struck down the aggregate limits on political contributions to federal candidates, political parties, and political committees. 

The limits at issue in the McCutcheon case imposed a cap on the total amount of money that a contributor could give to all federal candidates, political parties, and political committees, combined. More specifically, contributors were subject to an overall limit of $123,200 on all federal contributions in a two-year election cycle, as well as separate limits of $48,600 in political contributions to all federal candidates and $74,600 in contributions to all political parties and other political committees. The Supreme Court determined that these aggregate limits were invalid under the First Amendment. While the decision invalidates the aggregate limits, it will have no impact on the limits on contributions which a contributor can give to a particular candidate ($2,600 per election), political party ($32,400 per year), or political committee ($5,000 per year).

Although not at issue in the case, the rationale used by the Supreme Court in striking down the aggregate federal limits calls into question whether aggregate limits in local jurisdictions (such as San Francisco and Los Angeles) are valid. 

For more information, please contact:

Joan Cassman

415-995-5021 Direct Phone
415-995-3414 Fax

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