McCutcheon v. FEC Case Before Supreme Court Could Further Erode Campaign Finance Reform Laws

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Posted Oct. 9, 2013

Interview with Scott Nelson, an attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, conducted by Scott Harris


The 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case opened the floodgates to record amounts of unlimited and anonymous corporate campaign cash in U.S. election campaigns. The 2012 Presidential and Congressional election witnessed record-breaking expenditures of more than $7 billion. On Oct. 8, Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case. The suit was launched by Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee, who are challenging the current limit on the total amount of campaign contributions that a donor can give directly to candidates and political parties in a single election. The current maximum amount an individual can give to candidates, political parties and political action is $123,200 per two-year election cycle. However, if the justices rule in favor of the plaintiff in this case, campaign contributions could total more than $3.5 million to one candidate and $7 million to both parties in a single federal election cycle.

Many citizen groups already working for a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling are gravely concerned that if the court strikes down limits on individual campaign contributions in the McCutcheon case, that a handful of the super rich will be legally permitted to spend millions to buy elections, further corrupting a pay-to-play political system. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Scott Nelson, an attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, who discusses the issues surrounding the McCutcheon v. FEC case and the concern that a ruling favoring the plaintiff could further erode the nation’s campaign finance reform laws.

Scott Nelson is an attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group who is representing U.S. Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and David Price (D-N.C.) in a “friend-of-the-court” brief in defense of the Federal Election Commission in the McCutcheon v. FEC case. For more information on the Public Citizen Litigation Group, visit

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