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Political Contribution Limits Back Before Supreme Court Today

WASHINGTON, DC -- Currently, there are limits to the amount of money an individual can give to political campaigns. But today, those limits are being challenged in the Supreme Court.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Currently, there are limits to the amount of money an individual can give to political campaigns.
But today, those limits are being challenged in the Supreme Court.

McCutheon v. Federal Election Commission seeks to lift the overall cap on contributions an individual can make directly to federal candidates, party committees and political action committees.

Supporters say the current laws limit free speech, while the government argues the overall limit helps to prevent political corruption.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in McCutheon v. Federal Election Commission.
It will consider whether to undo some limits on contributions from the biggest individual givers to political campaigns.

Right now, individuals can give $2,600 per candidate, per election cycle...with a cap of roughly $123,000 - that overall amount is what is at issue.

"What the court has said in the past, dating back to 1976 is if you give too much to one candidate that could be corrupting," explains Richard Wolf, USA Today Supreme Court Correspondent.

Republican Alabama businessman Shaun McCutheon argues the current limit, limits his freedom of speech.
"Right now if he maxed out on the base he could only give to 16 or 17 candidates. What about the 18th or 19th?  He says that's not corrupting," says Wolf.

The court has typically supported contribution limits - but - In 2010 - in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission the Supreme court lifted the restrictions on spending for corporations and unions.
Today -  Shaun Mcutheon argues people like him shouldn't be limited because of their wealth.

"This, for the first time, gets into the question of what about direct donations, can those be limited the way they have been since 1976. And the guessing is that the court will say no, they can't be limited," says Wolf.


(Jericka Duncan, CBS News)

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