Post Citizens United, Supreme Court Willing to Deregulate Further

Thought Citizens United had a negative effect on the 2012 elections? Well, things could get worse.

This Fall, the Supreme Court is likely to hear McCutcheon v. FEC, a case involving Alabama GOP activist Shaun McCutcheon who argues that Citizens United has changed the playing field and there should no longer be any limits on individual campaign donations. It is likely McCutcheon will win his case.

Here is some background from The New Yorker:

Current federal law allows individual donors to give up to two thousand six hundred dollars to any one candidate during a single election. In addition, they can give only an aggregate hundred and twenty-three thousand dollars to candidates, political action committees, and parties over a two-year period. Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama Republican, wants to give more money to the candidates he supports, so he has sued to invalidate the rules limiting the over-all amounts he can give. (Indeed, the patriotically minded McCutcheon wanted to give “$1,776” to enough candidates to exceed the current limits on direct contributions.) The Supreme Court will hear his case in the fall, and he has a good chance of winning.

McCutcheon is the owner of Coalmont, an electrical engineering company and member of the Alabama Coal Association. According to his profile on the Alabama Republican Party website, he is the chairman of the Super PAC Conservative Action Fund (OpenSecrets info here). While their views may be somewhat extreme, the Super PAC does have a sort-of sense of humor:

In one advertisement it produced last fall, the super PAC accused President Barack Obama of implementing “draconian laws and regulations.” And it aired another ad that featured a “surfing rabbi” and computer-animated versions of Obama, along with New York Democrats Anthony Weiner and David Weprin, dancing in hot dog costumes — all while encouraging voters to support Republican Bob Turner in the special election to replace Weiner after his sexting scandal.

Yes, America, the man who brought you cartoon Democrats in hot dog costumes thinks he should be able to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns. Unfortunately, he has the lawyers that can make it happen. So says The New Yorker:

In his request before the FEC, McCutcheon is represented by attorneys Steve Hoersting, and Dan Backer of the D.C.-based DB Capitol Strategies and Jerad Najvar of the Houston-based Najvar Law Firm.

Hoersting, who co-founded the First Amendment rights-focused Center for Competitive Politics, and Backer are experienced campaign finance litigators. Their successes include 2011′s Carey v. Federal Election Commission federal court ruling, which granted most political action committees the ability receive unlimited contributions to fund independent political advertisements in a segregated bank account, separate from the money they typically collect to dole out donations to candidates. These men believe that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which allowed unlimited spending by corporations and unions on political advertisements, provides a “solid” foundation for bringing forward McCutcheon’s request at this moment in time. “The Supreme Court has been clear: campaign finance laws are constitutional when they prevent the corruption of candidates, and unconstitutional when they constrain some speakers to equalize others,” Hoersting told iWatch News.

Many members of the current Supreme Court have a clear goal: deregulating campaign finance. They have a set five votes and they are going to use them. Citizens United was not a fluke, it was merely the beginning. 

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