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September 28, 2012

Court upholds campaign finance limits

A three #judge panel has upheld #campaign finance limits, rejecting a challenge filed against the Federal Election Commission by the Republican National Committee.

In a 14-page decision written by conservative Judge Janice Rogers Brown, the D.C.-based panel considered the RNC's challenge to aggregate contribution rules. These rules prohibit individuals from contribuing more than an aggregate of $46,200 to candidates and their authorized committees during a two-year election cycle. The rules also limit to a total of $70,800 contributions to other political entities.

The RNC and Alabama resident Shaun McCutcheon challenged the aggregate contribution limits as a violation of the First Amendment. The court, though, distinguished between campaign spending, which is core political speech, and campaign contributions, which are somehow something different.

"Contribution limits are subject to lower (judicial) scrutiny because they primarily implicate the First Amendment rights of association, not expression, and contributors remain able to vindicate their associational interests in other ways," Rogers wrote.

Intriguingly, Rogers acknowledged that the "plaintiffs raise the troubling possibility that Citizens United undermined the entire contribution limits scheme," but underscored that ultimately the overall future of campaign finance law, especially the revisiting of the mess that remains of Buckley v. Valeo,"is a question for the Supreme Court, not us.


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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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