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Supreme Court Campaign Donation Decision Expected

February 20, 2014- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG - A decision about campaign donations and "free speech" is expected next week from the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involves donation limits from individuals to those running for federal office and their parties. The current donation limit is $123,000. Those working to get money out of politics point out that that sum is twice the median U.S. income.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the libertarian Cato Institute favor an end to all restrictions on political donations. Trevor Burrus with Cato's Center for Constitutional Studies said, "I do not think the danger of protecting the voice of the little guy is something the federal government, or any government, should be involved in. It's not a First Amendment concern that there are people out there who speak louder than other people and have more influence."

Emma Boorboor, democracy associate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), countered that the current overall limit of more than $100,000 is "plenty," already.

"Absent this limit, one wealthy donor would be permitted to contribute more than $3.5 million to a single party's candidates and party committees in one election cycle," Boorboor said.

In "McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission," Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon contended that his First Amendment rights are being violated when he cannot give a $2,600 donation to as many parties and candidates for federal office as he pleases. Boorboor said she hopes the court rules against him.

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