Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. FEC Ruling Increases Power of Super Rich in U.S. Politics

Posted April 9, 2014

MP3 Interview with Jonah Minkoff-Zern, co-director of Public Citizen’s Democracy is For People campaign, conducted by Scott Harris


On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 5 to 4 ruling in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case, overturning a 40-year limit on aggregate political contributions that a single donor can make to candidates and party political action committees. This decision effectively frees wealthy donors from previous restrictions, now allowing them to contribute to an unlimited number of candidates and party campaign organizations, while still being subject to caps on donations to individual candidates.

The suit was launched by Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee, who challenged the current restrictions on political contributions in a single election. With this Supreme Court ruling favorable to the GOP; a single-donor can now write a $5.9 million check to a fundraising committee controlled by an elected official or party leader. This decision further erodes campaign finance reforms, already gutted in the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case that opened the floodgates of corporate money in elections.

While Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion expressed no concern about the corrupting influence of more money in U.S. political campaigns, Justice Stephen Breyer countered that “the anti-corruption interest that drives Congress to regulate campaign contributions is a far broader, more important interest” than the five-person majority recognizes. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Jonah Minkoff-Zern, co-director of Public Citizen’s Democracy is for People campaign. Here, he examines the consequences of the McCutcheon decision and the grassroots movement working to restore and strengthen campaign finance laws by passing a constitutional amendment limiting the role of money in U.S. politics.

For more analysis of the consequences of the McCutcheon ruling and information on the movement to limit the role of money in U.S. politics, visit Public Citizen at or

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